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Full text of "The works of the Right Reverend John Stark Ravenscroft : containing his sermons and charges : to which is prefixed a memoir of his life"

DUKE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
DURHAM, N. C. 




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Rev. W. L. Hyland, D. D. 



THE 



WORKS 

II 



OP 



THE EIGHT KEVEKEND 

JOHN STARK RAVENSCROFT, D. D., 

BI9HOP OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE 
DIOCESE OF NORTH CAROLINA, 

CONTAINING HIS 

SERMONS AND CHARGES, 

DEVISED BT THB AUTHOR TO THE AID OF THB MISSIONARY CAUSB IN NORTH CAROLINA; 

TO WHICH IS PREFIXED 

A MEMOIR OF HIS LIFE. 

SECOND EDITION. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 

VOL. II. 



FAYETTEVILLE, N. C: 

PRINTED BY EDWARD J. HALE & SON. 

1856. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/worksofrighrev02rave 



Sch.R* 
CONTENTS OF VOL, II, ^ x 



SERMON L 

THE NATURAL MAN. 



PAGE. 

1 Corinthians ii. 14. — But the natural man receiveth not the things of 

the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can 
he kno"w them, because they are spiritually discerned , 1 

SERMON II. 

SIN. 
Romans yii. 13. — But sin, that it might appear sin, -working death in 
me by that -which is good; that sin by the commandment might be- 
come exceeding sinful 13 

SERMON III. 

SIN AND DEATH. 
Romans v. 12. — Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, 
and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all 
have sinned „,,„......,.. 25 

SERMON IV. 

DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 
Hebrews iii. 13, last clause. — Lest any of you be hardened through the 

deceitfulness of sin ........... 37 

SERMON T. 

WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 
Daniel xii. 10, latter part. — And none of the wicked shall understand; 

but the wise shall understand 49 

SERMON VI. 

THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 
Acts xvi. 30, latter clause. — What must I do to be saved? 59 

SERMON VII. 

CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 
John iii. 16. — For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begot- 
ten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but 
have everlasting life 73 

SERMON VIII. 

CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 

2 Corinthians v. 21. — For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew 

no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him..„ 85 



172076 



IV CONTENTS. 

PAGE. 

SERMON IX. 

THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 
1 Timothy ii. 5. — For there is one God, and one mediator between God 

and men, the man Christ Jesus 97 

SERMON X. 

CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 
Romans x. 4. — For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to 

every one that believeth 10$ 

SERMON XI. 

CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 
John xv. 5, latter clause. — For without me ye can do nothing 123 

SERMON XII. 

ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 
Micah vi. 6. — Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
before the high God? 187 

SERMON XIII. 

Christ's call to repentance. 
Like v. 32. — I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 149 

SERMON" XIY. 

nOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 
Lxkk ix. 23. — And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, 

let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me... 169 

SERMON XY. 

THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 
John v. 40. — And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life 171 

SERMON XYI. 

REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 
Matthew xxi. 37. — But, last of all, he sent unto them his Son, saying, 

They will revcronce my Son 18& 

SERMON XVII. 

CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 
Matthew x. 32, 33. — Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, 
him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But 
whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before 
my Father which is in heaven 197 

SERMON XVIII. 

FAITH IN CHRIST THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALVATION. 
John viii. 24, last clause. — For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall 
die in your sins ...» ..,. 209 



contents* y 

4] 

PAGfis 

SERMON XIX. 

life and Immortality brought to light by the 

GOSPEL. 
2 Timothy i. 10. — Who hath abolished death, and brought life and im- 
mortality to light by the gospel .< » 221 

SERMON XX. 

SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. — SACRAMENTAL. 
1 John iv. 10. — Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved 

us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins...... 238 

SERMON XXI. 

NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 
Hebrews ii. 3, 4. — How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salva- 
tion; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was 
confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them 
witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and 
gifts of the Holt Ghost, according to his own will? .* 245 

SERMON XXIL 

THE "WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. 
Acts xxiv. 25. — And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and 
judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for 
this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee 255 

SERMON XXIII. 

A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 
•John iii. 18.' — But he that believeth not, is condemned already...... 267 

SERMON XXIY. 

THE DANGER OF FORFEITING THE HEAVENLY REST. 
Hebrews iv. 1. — Let us, therefore, fear, lest a promise being left us Of 
entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it... 281 

SERMON XXV. 

THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 
Matthew vii. 21. — Not every one that saith unto me; Lord, Lord, shall 
enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that do'eth the will of my 
Father which is in heaven 293 

SERMON XXYI. 

THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 
T-i-tus iii. 8.- — This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou 
affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be 
carefiil to maintain good works » 305 

SERMON XXYII. 

DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 
2 Peter iii. 14. — Wherefore, beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be 
diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and 
blameless....*.^ .» <ti:...mn 319 



1 7 2 C 7 6 






VI CONTENTS. 

PAGK- 

SERMON XXVIII. 

THE LOVE OF THE WOULD INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE 
LOVE OF CHRIST. — SACRAMENTAL. 

1 John ii. 15. — Love not the world, neither the things that are in the 

world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in 
him 331 

SERMON XXIX. 

RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 

2 Corinthians xiii. 5. — Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; 

prove your own selves 347 

SERMON XXX. 

t 

NON-CONFORMITY WITH THE WORLD. 
Romans xii. 2, first clause. — And be not conformed to this world 35T 

SERMON XXXI. 

PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 
Matthew xxt. 14 — 30 — For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travel- 
ling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered 
unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another 
two, and to another one; to every man according to his several abil- 
ity; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received 
the five talents, went and traded with the same, and made them 
other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also 
gained other two. But he that had received one, went and digged 
in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord 
of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that 
had received five talents, came and brought other five talents, say- 
ing, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have- 
gained besides them five talents more. His lord said unto him, 
Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful 
over a few things, 1 will make thee ruler over many things: enter 
thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two tal- 
ents came, and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: 
behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said 
unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been 
faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; 
enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received 
the one talent came, and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an 
hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where 
thou hast not strewed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy tal- 
ent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord an- 
swered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou 
knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have 
not strewed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the 
exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine 
own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it 



CONTENTS. Vll 

PAGE. 

unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath 
shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that 
hath not shall be taken away even that he hath. And cast ye the 
unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping 
and gnashing of teeth -369 

SERMON XXXII. 

PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 
Luke viii. 16. — But that on the good ground are they, who in an honest 
and good heart, haying heard the word, keep it, and bring forth 
fruit with patience „. 381 

SERMON XXXHL 

FRUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 
Galatians vi. 7. — Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever 
a man eoweth, that shall he also reap „.. 391 

SERMON XXXIV. 

UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 
Luke xiii. 7. — Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these 
three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut 
it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 403 

SERMON XXXV. 

THE CAUSE OF UNFRUITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 
Hebrews iv. 2. — -But the word preached did not profit them, not being 

mixed with faith in them that heard it „. 415 

SERMON XXXVI. 

GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 
Ephesians iv. 30. — And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby 

ye are sealed unto the day of redemption 429 

SERMON XXXVII. 

THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 
Job v. 6, 7. — Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither 
doth trouble spring out of the ground; yet man is born unto trou- 
ble, as the sparks fly upward 441 

SERMON XXXVIII. 

THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. — SACRAMENTAL. 
1 John iii. 1. — Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed 
upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! 453 

SERMON XXXIX. 

CAIN AND ABEL.— SACRAMENTAL. 
Genesis iv. 3, 4, 5. — And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain 
brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And 
Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat 



Viii CONTENTS. 

PAGE, 
thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and unto his offer- 
ing: but, unto Cain and to his offering, he had not respect 467 

SERMON" XL. 

THE STATE OF THE DEPARTED. — A FUNERAL DISCOURSE. 
Job xiv. 14. — If a man die, shall he live again? 479 

SERMON XLL 

GOD IS WITNESS. 
1 The8SAL0J<iajjs ii. 5, last clause. — God is witness 495 






•■■•■ 



SERMOK I. 

THE NATURAL MAN. 






1 Corinthians ii. 14. 



,. ■■■''■: ••-■' 



"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they 
are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are 
spiritually discerned." 

It requires but a small acquaintance with ourselves, rny 
brethren, and no very extensive observation of human nature, 
to discover the import of the text; but it requires a deeper 
consideration than men in general are disposed to give it, to 
attain those advantages which flow from divine truth re- 
ceived and acted upon. 

The primary object of revelation being to give to mankind 
information of what they could not otherwise know, and the 
information given being of things spiritual and heavenly, 
bearing upon our peace and comfort in time and our well- 
being in eternity, its claims upon our attention can only be 
rightly measured by the interests which are at stake; and it 
might most reasonably be presumed, that what was so vitally 
important to every individual person, would be as gladly and 
joyfully attended to, as thankfully embraced and followed 
out in its directions, as light is welcomed by the weary and 
benighted traveller, or the means of healing and health by 
the sick and diseased. 

Yet observation and experience prove to us, my hearers, 
that it is otherwise in the practice of the world. The text, 
therefore, is verified to us in its assertion; and intimately 
connected as it is with the truth of our present condition, may 
lead to an improvement profitable to all present. 

The subject before us, in connexion with the context, pre- 
sents to our consideration two descriptions of persons, alike 
in their original, but different in their actual character — the 
natural and the spiritual man. It, therefore, obviously leads 
us to examine not only the distinction between them, but the 



2 THE NATURAL MAN. 

cause, also, of that distinction, with the consequences which, 
attach to their respective states, as well by the reason of the 
thing as by the wise appointment of God. 

I shall, therefore, endeavor to show you, 

First, what we are to understand by the words natural 
man, as here used by the apostle. 

Secondly, what those thiugs of the Spirit of God are which 
are foolishness to the natural man. 

Thirdly, I shall inquire why these particular things are 
counted foolishness; and, then, 

Conclude with some remarks on the consequences which 
must fullow to those who remain in this condition. 

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit 
of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he 
know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 

I. First, I am to show you what we are to understand by 
the words natural man, as here used by the apostle. 

In limiting the meaning of the words to the particular 
sense in which they are here used by the apostle, it is not to 
be inferred that there is no other and useful meaning in 
which this passage of Scripture is to be taken. It was not 
the apostle's intention, nor is it mine, to exclude the awfully 
verified truth, that to man fallen there is not, by his nature, 
any true knowledge of his own condition, or any saving 
knowledge of God. In this respect, we are all alike destitute 
of spiritual capacity or spiritual power. So true is this, that 
had God been silent, or withheld his Holy Spirit, it never 
could have entered into the heart of man to conceive any 
thing of his nature, or of the worship and service due to him 
from rational beings. For though mankind are not deprived, 
by their fallen condition, of any of the faculties of rational 
creatures, yet so debased and degraded are those faculties, so 
perverted and turned round from their original destination, 
that they serve only a secondary purpose, and are conver- 
sant, not with spiritual, but sensible things, so that expe- 
rience confirms the truth of God's word, that the world by 
wisdom never knew God. 

In another respect, however, this disability is removed; 
"for the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appear- 
ed to all men." Particularly under the gospel is this distin- 



THE NATURAL MAN. 3 

guishing privilege conferred on all who hear the joyful sound; 
they are called, as our catechism expresses it, to a state of 
salvation by Jesus Christ, and furnished with all the means 
necessary thereto. 

Yet, though this is undeniably the case, and the only view 
of the subject which makes religion a reasonable service, 
nevertheless, the glad tidings of the gospel and the grace of 
our Lord Jesus Christ do not operate as charms. As we are 
rational beings, the information given us is to be acted upon, 
the help offered us is to be resorted to, and the duties enjoin- 
ed upon us are to be performed, otherwise there is no benefit 
to be expected. 

Revelation is addressed, first to our understandings, next 
to our wants, then to our interests, and through all these to 
our affections. And when either sufficiently proved or ad- 
mitted, as a communication from God, our reason has no 
other province than to receive or reject it. It is not the pre- 
rogative of our rational faculties to sit in judgment on the 
mode or the manner in which God shall reveal himself to hia 
creatures, or yet on the means by which his benefits shall be 
conferred on us; with all this we have nothing to do, "we are 
saved by grace through faith." To act upon a different prin- 
ciple, then, is to usurp a station which does not belong to us, 
to the details of which we are not competent, and by the en- 
tertainment of which we manifest the very temper denounced 
in my text. Hence we learn, my brethren, to what descrip- 
tion of persons St. Paul applies the expression of natural man, 
in the passage of Scripture under consideration. 

It is the man who sets the wisdom of the world on a par 
with the wisdom of God. It is the man who would bring the 
mysteries of the divine will, in the redemption of the world, 
to be tried at the bar of human reason; it is the man who 
proudly rejects what his shallow reason cannot fathom; it is 
the man who carelessly neglects the treasures of divine wis- 
dom furnished in the Scriptures of truth; it is the wise man, 
the philosopher, the disputer of this world, who would try 
the gospel, its glorious discoveries, its means, and its mercies, 
by a standard beneath its measure, and receive or reject it 
according as it agreed therewith. It is the Greek, who 
counted the preaching of the cross foolishness, because it 



THE NATURAL MAN. 



squared not with the rules of the philosophy of the day, 
This, my hearers, is the natural man whom the apostle had 
in his eye when he penned this passage, who receiveth not 
the things of the Spikit or God, and to whom they are fool- 
ishness. The apostle speaks not here of the natural inability 
of fallen creatures to regain the favor of God, to comply with 
his holy and spiritual law, and prepare themselves for his 
presence in glory. This deficiency he was provided to 
remedy in every sincere mind, by the grace of that Jesus 
whom he preached to them; but he speaks of those who, 
when the gospel was proposed to them, received not the truth 
in the love of it, who submitted not themselves to the right- 
eousness of God, by believing and obeying his message, but 
resisted it upon the strength of their own reason, or through 
the love of their own corruptions; making themselves wiser 
than God, and preferring time to eternity. 

And are there none of this description of persons in the 
present day? Are there none among us who are entitled, in 
this acceptation of the words, to the name of natural men? 
Alas! for the multitudes who, either by neglect or perversion, 
bar themselves out from the grace of the gospel. Alas! for 
the thousands who dispute against the gospel, who think it 
an accomplishment to be above its faith and its duties, and 
who listen with greedy ears to what perverted reason can 
muster up in behalf of infidelity in some of its protean shapes. 
Alas! alas! cannot fallen sinners find the way to hell readily 
enough without deepening their damnation by sinning against 
light and knowledge, denying the Lord that bought them, 
and treading under foot the Son of God? 

But it may and will be asked, of what use, then, is our 
reason, the distinguishing attribute of man, if it is not to be 
applied in this our supreme concern? And who ever said or 
thought that it is not to be here applied, yea, earnestly and 
■diligently applied? Certainly I have never said so, nor yet 
given room for any to think I said so, unless by such an 
•overhasty conclusion as darkens counsel. 

Permit me, however, in my turn, to ask a question of these 
contenders for the supremacy of human reason. To what 
end, think you, was reason given you as respects things 
spiritual and invisible? what is its proper province in appli- 



S 



THE NATURAL MAN. 5 

cation to them? Have you ever asked yourself this question? 
Can you answer it? If not, your boasted reason has not yet 
done the best part of its office for you. 

Learn, then, that the highest use of the faculty of reason 
in man, fallen, is to render him capable of instruction in 
things of a spiritual and heavenly nature. Human reason 
can have no privity with the mind or will of God, and, had 
God been silent, never could have advanced one step beyond 
the things that are seen; for even the superstitions of the 
Heathen are all resolvable into the original revelation made 
to Adam after his fall. Revelation, then, is to reason, in 
things spiritual, what light is to the eye in things natural; 
for reason is the eye of the mind. However perfect, there- 
fore, in all its parts the eye may be, take away the material 
light and where or what is its use? It is an incumbrance, a 
hindrance, presenting something to rely upon which yet 
answers not the purpose. 

In like manner, my brethren, and by an analogy of the 
strictest kind, however perfect human reason may be, how- 
ever improved and extended in all its capacities, deprive it 
of the light of revealed truth, and what is its value in spiritual 
things? Of what use, in particular, is it in the deep mystery 
of man's redemption by the Son of God? Alas! is it not, even 
to our experience, a hindrance, a stumbling block, a betrayer 
of souls to all those who will not learn its right use, but 
proudly exalt a depraved and perverted attribute of the 
creature into the place and station of the Most High God? 

Human reason, my friends, is competent to determine 
whether we have a revelation of the will of God, because it 
is by this faculty alone, that the truth and certainty of the 
evidences by which its title is established are to be judged. 
But this being done, reason can go no further; it is not com- 
petent to decide on the propriety or fitness of what is revealed. 
For example — 

Whether the doctrine of the trinity be a part of the reve- 
lation made to our faith, is a question for our reason to ex- 
amine and determine. But whether it be consistent with 
the nature of the Supreme Being that such should be the- 
manner of his subsistence, is a question we have no means of 
resolving, and, therefore, ought not to entertain. To assert,, 



6 THE NATURAL MAN. 

then, upon grounds of human reason, that it is inconsistent 
with the unity of the Godhead that it should consist in three 
coeternal subsistences, is not only to be wise above what is 
written, intruding into things not seen, vainly puffed up by 
a fleshly mind, but is an illogical assumption of the point in 
argument. And to support this assertion by reasonings from 
the incomprehensibility to us of such a mode of subsistence 
in deity, is, in fact, atheistical; because the same argument 
is equally good against the being of God under any other 
mode of subsistence; — for a self-existent, underived, eternal 
Being, as the Almighty must be in his nature or not be at 
all, is as incomprehensible to our faculty in a single essence 
as in three. 

The sum is this, my hearers: the fact our reason can com- 
pass, the mode it cannot compass. We, therefore, have no- 
thing to do with the mode; and to intrude into it with our 
puny measure of intelligence, is precisely that abuse and 
perversion of reason which marks the natural man of my 
text, to whom the things of the Spirit of God, that is, the 
mysteries revealed to our faith, are foolishness. 

Let, then, these plain and practical truths guard you, my 
brethren and hearers, against the seductive sophistry, which 
would exalt your reason at the expense of your souls — which 
would lead you away from the only foundation, and leave 
you on the dark and slippery steps of an unreasonable infi- 
delity. For, as the apostle argues, in the 11th verse of this 
chapter, "what man knoweth the things of a man, save the 
spirit of man which is in him, even so the things of God 
knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." 

But, while this is undoubtedly the primary sense in which 
the apostle here uses the words natural man, as is evident 
from the context — for he, throughout, contrasts the natural 
man with the spiritual, or spiritually enlightened man — yet, 
as I observed in the outset, this is not the only sense in which 
the text is to be used and applied by us. For we may apply 
it to man as he now is, a fallen, depraved creature, savoring 
only the things of time and sense, and indisposed and averse 
to the entertainment of things spiritual and heavenly. It 
also denotes the unrenewed man, the person upon whom the 
grace of the gospel has produced no change; upon whom the 



THE NATURAL MAN. f 

Spirit of God hath not operated the mighty transformation 
of a new creature. And this, because the discoveries of the 
gospel have not been met in faith, and God sought unto, as 
he is therein revealed and set forth, by and through our 
Lord Jesus Christ. 

This gives to the words of my text a wide range, my breth- 
ren, inasmuch as it includes all who hold themselves back 
from the claims of the gospel upon their attention and ob- 
servance, whether that proceed from the proud and lofty pre- 
tensions of infidel reason, or the carelessness and neglect of 
worldly occupation, or the love of sensual indulgence. To 
what extent and under what designation the words mav be 
most properly applied, those who hear them are the most 
competent judges; and I earnestly beseech all present, who 
are not conscious of that spiritual change which must pass 
upon all who would see God and live, seriously to lay to 
heart the unutterable consequences of turning a deaf ear to 
saving truth, and an unwilling mind to commanded duty. 
The day of grace is shortening — the day of eternity is draw- 
ing near — "awake, then, thou that sleepest" in thy natural 
state, "and Christ shall give thee light." 

II. Secondly, I am to show you what those things of the 
Spirit of God are, which are foolishness to the natural man. 

That these are the mysteries of the gospel, the things which 
in an especial manner are the things of Jesus Christ, and 
which he told his disciples the Holt Spirit would take and 
show unto them, is clear, both from the tenor and purpose of 
the gospel, and from the whole structure of the apostle's ar- 
gument in this epistle. 

The Grecian philosophers of St. Paul's day decried and de- 
rided the doctrines of the cross; they brought the things of 
the Spirit of God — preached by him with great plainness of 
speech, indeed, but with miraculous attestation to their truth 
— to the standard of the wisdom of their schools, and, be- 
cause not answerable to the principles of their philosophy, they 
rejected them. 

It was not the morality of the gospel, my hearers, that was 
foolishness in their view, but its spirituality. JSTo men taught 
more zealously the moral principles of truth, justice, and 
temperance, than the ancient sages of Greece. With this 



8 THE NATURAL MAN. 

part of Christianity there was no difficulty. But they stum- 
bled at those mysterious but heaven-attested doctrines, in 
union with which only can the morality of fallen sinners be 
exalted to the dignified station of religion. It was the stu- 
pendous doctrine of God made sin, that man might be made 
the righteousness of God in him, with all that flows from this 
doctrine, of our lost and undone condition, and of our need 
of renewing grace, that offended their self-righteous estima- 
tion of their own worth. It was the incarnation of God the 
Son — the sacrifice of the cross — the virtue of the atonement 
thereby made for sin, and the unqualified necessity of faith 
in this crucified Jesus, as God manifest in the flesh — dying 
for our sins — risingfor our justification — ascended into heaven 
for our assurance of immortality — glorified and reigning for 
salvation to the ends of the earth, and constituted the judge 
of quick and dead — these were the high discoveries which 
overthrew the systems of their fanciful mythology. It was 
at these stumbling truths that their pride revolted. It was 
by these mysterious doctrines that their wisdom was con- 
founded; and as they received not the love of truth that they 
might be saved, they incurred the delusion of believing a lie 
that they might be damned. And is there nothing in this 
warning, my friends, which knocks awfully at the hearts of 
those who stand in the like danger by incurring the like 
guilt? Is there nothing to alarm the fears of those who exalt 
the meagre and vapid reasonings of infidel science against 
God and the word of his grace? Is there nothing to show 
the wise, and the mighty, and the noble of this Christian 
land, why the gospel is not the power of God unto salvation 
to them? Is there nothing in this delineation of the first 
principles of religion, to enable all present to determine 
whether they are natural or spiritual men? Above all, is 
there nothing to show them that better way which God has 
marked out and promised to bless all who walk in it? O, 
beware, my dear brethren and hearers, lest any man spoil 
you through philosophy and vain deceit — after the traditions 
of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after 
Christ. And O, beware that ye stop not short of that re- 
newal of the Spirit of God in you, which alone can prepare 
a fallen, spiritually dead creature, for life and glory eternal! 



THE NATURAL MAN. 9 

HI. Thirdly, I am to inquire why these particular things 
are counted foolishness. 

To say that this is occasioned by the want of senses exer- 
cised to discern the application and efficacy of the discove- 
ries of the gospel, would be leaving the subject where we 
found it, and leaving those, als©, who are in this deplorable 
state, without the help and counsel provided for them. It 
is, therefore, to the neglect of obvious duty on the part of 
those who are favored wiJi divine revelation, that this state 
of indifference and deadncss to the interests of hereafter is to 
be ascribed. That such multitudes, Gallio-like, care for none 
of those things, and the activity of rational natures, made, 
and formed, and furnished, to glorify God and enjoy him for 
ever, are content to famish on the husks and garbage of a 
perishing world, arc content to remain in the darkness and 
hopelessness of the. things that are seen, even amid the bright 
shining of the light of life. 

Of this, the true cause of the evil, and the just answer to 
this inquiry, the proof, I trust, will bo evident from the fol- 
lowing considerations: 

First, if Gon hath spoken to us, and we are in possession 
of his will and directions, the undeniable duty of every ration- 
al being is, to acquaint himself with that will and to follow 
those directions. 

Secondly, it is on the performance of this duty that God 
hath limited his blessing in the growth and increase of spirit- 
ual help and power. 

The first consideration . is so self-evidently true as to meet 
the unqualified assent of all who hear it: and it follows, un- 
deniably, in an equal degree, that whoever does not carefully 
consider and follow out the will of Goo, cither denies the 
fact of a revelation or despises the revealer; and, conse- 
quently, cannot eNpcct any of the spiritual benefits promised 
to faith and obedience. "(0 that they were wise, that they 
understood this, that they would consider their hitter end. 
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" 

The second consideration is equally capable of proof, and 
of a proof not only derived from authority, but from the rea- 
son of lIic thing. < Jon hath no need of the sinful man, there- 
fore it is by grace that we arc saved. 
[Vol. 2,^-*2.] 



10 THE NATURAL MAN. 

"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but 
have everlasting life." The mercies of redemption and the 
means of grace, therefore, are the talents, in their various ex- 
tent, committed to our trust on the declared condition of im- 
provemenf. "To him that hath shall be given, and he shall 
have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken 
away even that which he hath." 

"With this equitable rule, all that the Saviour of the world 
hath taught and promised is in perfect agreement. "I came 
not to destroy men's lives but to save them. I am come 
that they might have life, and that they might have it more 
abundantly. I am the light of the world; he that followeth 
me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of 
life. lie that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living waters; he that believeth not shall be damned." 
From all which., and much more that might be produced, 
it must be evident that the blessing of spiritual illumination, 
so essential to a fallen creature, is limited on the previous 
condition of our faith in and submission to the revealed will 
of God; nor can it be conceived in what other way religion, 
as a reasonable and possible duty, can be addressed to moral 
creatures in a state of reprieve and probation for eternity. 
All doubt on this point, however, is happily done away by 
the standing declaration of the gospel — '"Ask and ye shall 
receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened 
unto you." For, says our blessed Lord, and happy expe- 
rience confirms the truth, "every one that asketh, receiveth; 
and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it 
shall be opened." 

Hence it must be evident, and I pray God that it may be 
the effectual conviction of every soul that now hears me, 
that if we are natural men, in the sense here used by the 
apostle; if we are indifferent to the high discoveries of the 
gospel; if we are careless of the manifestations of God, there- 
in made to the faith and observance of his creatures; if the 
course and occupation of our lives, or the open or secret 
tenor of our thoughts, show louder than words, that they are 
foolishness unto us; it must be our fault, it cannot be our in- 
firmity; it must be our condemnation, it cannot be our ex- 



THE NATURAL MAN. 11 

cuse. God hath done all that is necessary to remove our na- 
tural disability for spiritual things; he hath set before us 
whatever can confirm faith, excite hope, or alarm fear in 
rational creatures: but if we will none of his ways, if we will 
be wiser than God in the things of God, and risk our immor- 
tal souls on the unreasonable venture, what remains, but that 
having chosen darkness rather than light, the way of life 
shall be hid from us for ever. "For if any man have not the 
Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; neither is there salvation 
in any other — for there is none other name under heaven 
given amongst men whereby we must be saved, only the 
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth." 

I have now to conclude with some remarks on the conse- 
quences which must follow to those who remain in this con- 
dition. 

And first, it must, I think, be evident, that were those 
consequences confined to the present life, they are worth an 
exertion to be avoided; for either all serious thought must be 
excluded, or thought must be painful. The natural man dif- 
fers but little from the brute, and that difference is against 
the man. In the day of prosperity and enjoyment, the natu- 
ral man, like the ox in a fat pasture, may give himself up to 
every delight of the carnal mind, and drown and extinguish 
the voice of reason and reflection in the festivities of wan- 
tonness, or occupy his faculties exclusively in the acquisi- 
tions of time; but in the day of adversity where is his re- 
source? The brute has no anticipations — the man has. As 
his prosperity was without God, so is his adversity without 
one ray of comfort. Thought is his enemy and reflection his 
torment, because he perverts his distinguishing character as 
a rational being, and will not point it to God. But more 
than this: it is a sense of God, of his undeserved goodness, of 
the wonders of his love in the gift of Jesus Christ for the re- 
demption of sinners, which gives to the various mercies of 
his providence their proper character; this the natural man 
deprives himself of. The most prosperous and happy con- 
dition terminates with the short uncertainty of time; the na- 
tural man cannot look beyond it, further than conjecture; 
hut it is not so with adversity. God, in aid of his truth, hath 
planted an impression in every heart, that adversity ends not 



12 THE NATUEAL MAN. 

with this life to the sinner. A certain fearful looking for of 
judgment, which lie cannot shake off, though he can resist 
it, — for he is a moral being and not a machine,' — -haunts the 
natural man, with the four which hath torment; his prosperi- 
ty, therefor , is unblessed — his adversity is without comfort. 
If more than this is the portion of the natural man, of the 
mm who hath no discernment or desire of the things of the 
Spain of God, it can only he what he has in common with 
the beasts that perish. 

But, secondly, when this world and all its delusions come 
to close*, when (he inevitable sentence to which all must sub- 
mit makes the truth of God victorious over all the vain rea- 
sonings of an iniidel philosophy, when the pride of opinion 
can no longer bear up against; the realities winch this hour 
brings forward — -whai I hen, my hearers, are the consequences 
to the natural man, :<> the man for whom * finasd has died in 
vain, wiili whom the 1 1 « • i . y Srunr has striven in vain, and 
God pul forth the whole extent of his love, for salvation, 
wiihoul effect? Shall I at tempi ; to speak of them? No, im- 
aginalioii is exhausted and expression overwhelmed under 
the awful contemplation. To your hearts, to your conscien- 
ces, then, 1 refer you for what cannot be uttered, and may 
GvD in mercy seal his truth to your souls' heaLh. 



SERMON II. 



SIN. 



Romans vii. 13. 

But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is 
good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 

That there is a principle at work in the world which is in 
opposition to the reason of our own minds, to the peace and 
comfort of society, and to individual happiness, has in every 
age of the world been the experience and the acknowledg- 
ment of all descriptions of persons. Heathen philosophers, 
equally with Christian moralists and professors of religion, 
have united in one unvarying testimony to a statu of disorder 
in the moral world — the mind and affections of man — as 
plainly marked as that which is displayed in the world called 
natural. This principle, under the personification of a power 
or agent working in us, is denominated sin, and is set forth 
in the Scriptures as the true and only cause of all the disorder 
and misery known and suiFered in this world, and of all that 
can Le anticipated by the conscious objects of its influence 
in that which is to come. 

This knowledge, however, of the cause and of the connexion 
of the state of disorder in the natural and moral world, was 
hid from the Heathen philosopher. He could conjecture and 
reason, and an occasional gleam from traditionary revelation 
would bring him to the confines of the truth;" but certainty 
and satisfaction were beyond his reach. Alas! that so many 
Christian moralists, especially the more modern ones, by 
preferring the rush-light of human reason, in matters beyond 
their experience, to the clear and decisive discoveries of re- 
vealed truth, should be in no better case. lhi : to. the Chris- 
tian, and fcq the Christian only, it is given, to trace these ac- 
knowledged effects to their cause, to account for the connexion 
between them, to understand their bearing upon himself, and 
to give to the cause itself its true and genuine character, co- 



14 six. 

lor, and operation. And happy had it been for Christian 
lands, had this their privilege and advantage been duly es- 
timated and rightly applied; yea, happy will it be for that 
Christian land, for that individual Christian, who will yet 
make this improvement of what is so freely bestowed upon 
them. 

That it may be thus considered and applied by that por- 
tion of Christian people who are now present, is my desire 
and design. And, as we cannot rightly appreciate the ad- 
vantages of revelation and the obligations of religion, with- 
out considering deeply what it is that has rendered revealed 
religion and instituted means of grace necessary to us, and 
an interposition of heaven's mercy in our behalf, whatever is 
calculated to bring our thoughts to act upon so essential a 
part of our religious and moral condition, must be helpful to 
us — must be profitable to our souls. 

To this end, nothing, m my judgment, can contribute so 
effectually as a serious consideration of the nature, influence, 
and consequences, of sin as a component part of our fallen 
frame, exerting a constraining power over us, and operating 
to our ruin now and for ever. And though this is a subject 
on which most will suppose that they need nothing, either to 
inform or impress them, I am well persuaded of the contrary. 
I am fully convinced, that there is no one subject, religion 
itself excepted, on which there are such vague and unsettled 
notions, or on which men so readily content themselves with 
admission in the gross, and with disregard in the particulars. 

What, let me ask, is more universally admitted as existing- 
and operating to our destruction? And yet, how few, in 
comparison, are engaged in breaking its chain and escaping 
from its snare? What more common with all classes of men, 
even with those who make the service of sin their daily oc- 
cupation us it were, than to admit in words, its dangerous 
and destructive nature, and yet the next minute go in pursuit 
of some of its miserable deceits? What more common with 
those who call themselves Christians, with professors of reli- 
gion, than to find even them parleying and tampering with 
it in some unlawful conformity to the world, in its vain and 
vicious pursuits, and manifesting little or no anxiety respect- 
ing its influence on their children, their friends, and their 



SIN. 15 

neighbors, like the Pharisees of old, limiting sin to the letter 
of the law, and, if not forbidden in the decalogue, shutting 
their eyes to the spiritual extent of that holy law. 

But could this be so, were the real malignity, the damning 
nature, the universal influence, and the dreadful consequen- 
ces of sin felt, and considered, and realized as they ought to 
be? Could it be thus if the very purpose of a law against 
sin in particulars, were borne in mind? And yet Christians 
are instructed that by "the law is the knowledge of sin;" and 
St. Paul tells us that "he had not known lust," that is, the 
existence of sin in this shape within ■him, "except the law had 
said, Thou shalt not covet." This opened up to him a mine 
of iniquity within, far beyond the specific prohibitions of the 
law, and made him feel what a wretched man he was without 
the gospel. This explains to us how it is that "without the 
law sin was dead," that is, dormant, not felt in its stirrings. 
How, without the law, that is, the law not recognized, not 
considered, not realized in the extent of its obligation, and, 
therefore, as if there was no law, St. Paul says, "he was once 
alive," at one period without fear or apprehension from the 
sanctions of the law denounced against sin. . Under this view 
we come to understand how it is, that when "the command- 
ment came," when the law of God was seen in the purity and 
extent of its precepts, "sin revived and he died." Sin, before 
dormant and quiet, because not interrupted by positive pro* 
hibition, was thereby roused into active resistance, and 
showed, by prevailing against the precept, that however 
holy, and just, and good the law was in itself, it was never- 
theless powerless, weak through the flesh, to subdue and 
conquer sin, and, therefore, could only confirm the death due 
to and denounced against it, and against him as under its 
power and dominion. 

In this experimental delineation of the awakenings of the 
Spirit we learn to understand, my brethren, in what sense 
"the law is the strength of sin." How it comes to pass that 
prohibition actually increases the desire to transgress, and 
stirs up the carnal mind to resist the authority and the rea- 
son of the law, and the conscience and interest of the sinner. 
We are prepared to meet the apostle in the question preced- 
ing the text, to perceive a purpose in the law itself which, 



16 SIN. 

otherwise, we should not have thought of, and thus to find 
the law our schoolmaster, to bring us to Oitutst for that grace, 
without which sin must continue its mastery over us; shut- 
ting us out forever from God, and delivering us over to his 
wrath. "Was, then, that which is good made death unto 
mer" says the apostle. Was it the purpose of the law of God 
to increase our misery, by showing the utter hopelessness of 
fulfilling its requirements and escaping its penalty? "God 
forbid." Xo. k \13ut sin, that it might appeal' sin, working 
death in me by that which is good, that sin by the command- 
ment might become exceeding sinful" — that, being shown in 
its true colors by an express command against it, the guilt of 
its commission might be aggravated, and men, deterred from 
it.- hateful and ruinous practice, might be awakened to the 
danger, and drawn to the only remedy against its power, in 
the uracc of Gob through Jbs-us CumsT our Loud. 

The text being thus explained, in connexion with the con- 
text, and the apparent difficulty, from the manner of expres- 
sion, removed, 1 will now proceed to enforce the weighty 
warning and instruction contained in it, by considering, 

b'jusT, the nature of bid. 

Sj i oM.f.y, the extent of its intluence. 

Thirdly, the consequences both present and future; and, 
then, 

Close with an application of the whole. 

I. first, 1 am to consider the nature of sin. 

Sin, in its nature, is opposition to Goo, actual hatred of 
and enmity to his purity and holiness. It must, therefore, 
be the chief evil, and, as such, the abhorrence of the Chief 
Good, No language can express it more truly, no deline- 
ation can describe it morel exactlv, or enable us to realize 
more fully its detestable qualities, in all the darkness of their 
malignity. 

Again; sin. in its nature, is an internal principle, seated in 
the heart. 

In tliifi view, sin is not so properly an aci or series of ac- 
tion^, as a habit or disposition of the soul. We are told, in- 
deed, in the word of Goo, "that sin is the transgression of the 
law," and it is so most certainly; but it is this in such wise, 
as the breach of the law is conclusive evidence of the sinful 



SIN. 

principle existing within us. ' Sin and transgression stand to 
each other in the relation of cause and effect; were there no 
sinful principle there would be no sinful practice. 

This ma j be illustrated by the principle which obtains in 
the administration of civil laws. ' 

In the case of unlawful killing, the overt act of murder is 
evidence of the mahis am't/ius, the malice aforethought, 
which constitutes the crime. In like manner of theft, pro- 
faneness, and any other forbidden act. Human laws, indeed, 
concern themselves mainly to repress the outward action, and 
when this is not committed, they have no operation. The 
divine law, on the contrary, takes cognizance of the intention, 
the disposition which gives birth to the action; it most 
pointedly forbids and condemns the sinful act, but reserves 
a deeper condemnation for the hostile principle to God and 
goodness thereby manifested. 

Once more: sin in its nature is a unit, and is, therefore, in- 
dependent of more or less in the outward evidences of its 
existence. It is not the number or the magnitude of trans- 
gressions which constitutes sin; these are only the evidences 
of the greater or less degree of the power it has over us. The 
principle of opposition to God is as truly manifested by one 
as by one hundred transgressions, just as one murder as com- 
pletely determines the presence of malice, as any number 
could do; not that the degree of guilt from one transgression, 
either in the sight of Goo or man, is as great as from many, 
but that it is sufficient evidence of the fact. And this is the 
ground and the reason of the Scripture declaration, "whoso- 
ever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, 
he is guilty of all." 

II. Secondly, I am to consider the extent of its influence. 

Alas, my hearers, where, in the boundary of this poor 
world, shall we find the spot free from the influence of sin! 
"We shift from place to place, we change occupation and pur- 
suit, we flee to new and unexplored countries; but we cannot 
escape from ourselves, — sin goes with us — we carry it in our 
hearts — it follows us like a shadow. Alas! that it should be 
so favorite a companion. 

Its influence, then, may be pronounced universal. To love 
it in some shape is the taint and infection it hath brought 



18 SIN. 

upon our nature; to yield to its* temptations, yea, to hunt out 
its short lived perishing pleasures, madly to pluck and eat 
this forbidden fruit, is the pregnant evidence of its all-per- 
vading presence. 

What stage of our being is free from its influence? Alas! 
before we can fairly be considered accountable beings, its 
buds appear, its blossoms open, its fruit forms. It takes the 
start of reason, and, too often, it keeps the track. When 
reason, lagging behind, conies up, what can it do with this 
mighty foe, who holds the reins and drives the passions head- 
long to present enjoyment? Its powers are weakened, its 
perceptions darkened, its will perverted by the very adver- 
sary it has to hold in check; it can see the good, but how to 
do it it finds not; it may say, drive not so madly, but the law 
in the members is stronger than the law of the mind; it may 
say stop, and stop it may in one direction, secure of another 
in which its influence, though less obvious, will he equally sure. 
Oh! what a Proteus is this ever present enemy, even with 
the aid of divine revelation, by which all its deceits are ex- 
posed, all its dangers declared, and through which help is 
offered against this enemy. How feeble and powerless is 
this boasted defence against the influence of sin! If this is 
not so, how conies it to pass that so many of those now be- 
fore me, both men and women, who have reason, who have 
revelation, who have warning, are yet the servants of sin in 
some of its multifarious deceits? Is there no opposition to 
God in the hearts of those who, instead of remembering their 
Creator in the days of their youth, rush into everv folly and 
vanity which the world spreads before them, and drown the 
care of the soul in the vortex of dissipation? Is there no 
enmity to the purity and holiness of God in those who sow 
to the flesh, anil, in the lusts of uncleanness and the brutish- 
ness of intemperance, set reason and religion both at defiance? 
Is there no mark of the carnal mind in those who coolly and 
decently labor and strive for a portion in this life; good, 
orderly, moral, church or meeting going people — Goo not in 
all their thoughts — no fear of him before their eyes — no love 
of him in their hearts — who never give an hour to his service 
beyond the heartless formality of a Sunday forenoon? Yea, 
even in the professing world, is there no seasoning of sin in 



drawing near to God with the lips while the heart is far from, 
him — in conforming to the world — in narrowing duty — in 
neglect of prayer — in selfishness — in spiritual pride — in sep- 
arations and divisions? Above all, what but the influence 
of sin can make professing parents negligent of the welfare 
of their children's spiritual concerns, or be content with a 
cold and occasional admonition? "Oh! wretched creatures 
that we are! who shall deliver us from the body of this death?" 
O, that I could hear the groan echoing from every heart: for 
there is deliverance, thanks be to God, there is deliverance 
from the reigning power of this tyrant; but it is not in man; 
it is not in any effort of his reason, nor in any exertion of 
his own fallen, sin-infected powers. Gor>, even the Almighty, 
must put forth the might of a new creation to quicken us 
into life; the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, "who was made 
sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God 
in him," alone can stay the plague and create a new heart, 
and renew a right spirit within us: and the law of God with 
its eternal sanctions; and the revelation of God with its 
precious promises; and the love of Christ with its winning 
attractions, are all set forth with divine evidence, to awaken 
and encourage, and engage us to seek the help that is in him. 
Faith is the talisman which strips the mask from sin, snatches 
the reins from her maddening hand, and delivers them 
over to the Spirit of God, under whose holy discipline the 
power of sin is broken, the influence of sin is defeated; old 
things are done away — a new life begins, and "the path of 
the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more 
unto the perfect day." Yet, mighty as is this help, freely 
as it is offered, and great as is our necessity, behold, once 
more, how great and how extended is the influence of sin. 
Let one hour pass, and where will these truths be which now 
fall so heavy on your consciences? Let one week pass, and 
to how many of you, whose eyes are now cast down under 
the home truth of God's faithful word, shall I be as one 
"that hath a pleasant voice and can play well on an instru- 
ment," and that truth itself cast down under the dominion 
of sin? Again, 1 say, "Oh! wretched men that we are, who 
shall deliver us from the body of this death?" 

That we may in earnest seek this deliverance, I will now 
consider and point out, as was proposed, 



20 sin. 

III. Thirdly, the consequences of sin, both present and 
future. 

That to sin, pursued and followed in some shape by our- 
selves or others, we owe all the distresses and miseries of 
this life, is alike the witness of revelation and the result of 
experience. God has laid his curse upon sin, and sin, in the 
malignity of her revenge, transfers her curse upon man, the 
favored creature of God. Fools and blind, that we are, to 
yield ourselves the servants of this deceiver, against know- 
ledge, against warning, against experience, against help and 
means, freely provided and held forth, against the fear of 
hell and the hope of heaven. 

Broken health, ruined fortunes, misery and crime, are the 
bitter fruits with which sin repays her votaries in the present 
life. And, though there may be some who, to appearance, 
escape these consequences, and in success and enjoyment 
glitter above their fellow servants, yet are 'die>e but excep- 
tions which confirm the general rule, and show more fear- 
fully in the end, on what a slippery steep they stand; for it 
is but for a season. Sooner or later the blast overtakes them, 
the sand gives way under them, their master deceives them 
and pays their faithful services with his only wages — shame 
and contempt; poverty and nakedness, remorse and despair, 
disease and death. 

But were outward ealainitv and sufferins; all we had to 
dread in yielding to the deceits of sin, though a dear price 
for its perishing gratifications, the folly and madness of the 
choice would not be so great; there might be a sort of balance 
struck between the price and the purchase, as concerns the 
present life, and the arithmetic of the sinner would cast it 
up in his own favor. "When, however, we must take into 
the account the inward misery that follows in the accusa- 
tions of conscience, the gnawings of guilt, the fear that hath 
torment, the anticipations of judgment, an offended God, 
and a rejected Saviour, what is there in the utmost range of 
sinful enjoyment to balance this mental agony? Oh! how 
gladly would the sufferer give it all back for one moment's 
ease, for a single hour of peace from the gnawings of the 
worm that never dies. "But there is no peace, saith my 
God, to the wicked." 



SIN. 21 

There is yet another consequence of sin in the present life, 
my hearers, more common, more destructive, and not as 
much considered as it ought to be, which I will, mention, and 
that is the eliect produced by negligence and delay in for- 
saking the ways of sin. low this is universally a deadening 
of the feelings, a hardening of the heart, a callousness of the 
conscience, almost hopeless to any religious impression. This 
is a condition more dangerous than even that of the outbreak- 
ing profligate sinner, inasmuch as the one may be alarmed 
and arrested by the very madness of his folly, while the other 
dreams on under the sleep of sin; and as this is the case with 
the more orderly and decent part of society, who give some 
countenance to religion, but go no further, it is both more 
common and more destructive to souls than any other deceit. 

If I were to name the most general and destructive sin in 
my knowledge, I would at once name procrastination — the 
putting off till to-morrow, the neglect of warnings,- the being 
false to the voice of conscience. And as the very act is and 
ought to be full p"oof thai we prefer sin, that sin reigns, no 
other consequence can follow, than deeper subjection to its 
power, and greater estrangement from Uoo. What, let me 
ask this congregation of Christian people, ought to be the 
course of every one of them, under the information and grace 
of the gospel? Ought they to sit still, folding their hands 
like the sluggard, and waiting passively to be converted? 
Ought they to continue in the active service of sin, in the 
miserable delusion of repenting hereafter? Or ought every 
one of them to be up and doing now, while it is called to-day; 
not conferring with flesh and blood, but breaking off their 
sins by repentance, and their iniquities by righteousuess, 
laboring and striving to make their calling and election sure? 
Can one hour's delay in such a case be justified? And yet, 
who among you will act upon the verdict conscience now 
brings in against yourselves, before God the Judge? Alas! 
alas! that, turn whieh way wc will, the imbencc of sin meets 
us, and casts its damning veil over truth and reason, and con- 
science and rcvelatio"!. J hit will this excuse us? No, my 
dear hearers, it will rather condemn us. For it is the very 
point heaven is hi conilicl" wiih, which C'-im t died to save 
us from, and which the grace of Coj) is given us to overcome. 



22 sm. 



Put forth an effort, then, against this enemy. With prayer 
for grace, make ferial of the means which God has provided 
in Cheist Jesus, and promised to bless. You owe it to the 
goodness of God; you owe it to the love of Cheist; you owe 
it to your own souls. For, says unchangeable truth, "except 
ye repent ye shall perish," which is the future consequence 
of sin unrepented, unforsaken. 

That the enemy of God should be forever shut out from his 
presence, we are prepared, by natural equity, to acknowledge 
aud feel to be just. The sinner, then, continuing such, must 
surrender all hope of happiness hereafter. Yet sin the de- 
ceiver will whisper, be not afraid, God is merciful — Cheist 
has died — you will escape somehow — at an)' rate you can 
repent hereafter. 

That the rebel, lying at the mercy of Omnipotence, who 
rejects offered mercy, and spurns from him pardon and re- 
ward, deserves punishment in its severest form, our own sense 
of justice pronounces right. The sinner, then, continuing 
such, under the offered mercy, pardon, and grace of the gos- 
pel, passes his own sentence, and must go away into perdi- 
tion by the judgment of his own lips. For to be for ever 
shut out from God, and endure the infliction of his wrath, is 
perdition; yet the enemy of God and man will argue, as in 
the beginning, "ye shall not surely die;" God will not punish 
a finite offence with an infinite punishment; sin is not that 
hateful thing the ministers of Cheist represent it, but a thing 
to be desired, which will add to your present happiness, en- 
large the sphere of your knowledge, and extend your experi- 
ence of life. And sits there the man before me whom the 
enemy has not encountered in this guise? Sits there the man 
or woman before me, who lias not held this parley with sin, 
and yielded to this sophistry, and put forth the rebellious 
hand and plucked and eaten of this forbidden fruit? And sits 
there, then, one before me who has not incurred the penalty 
denounced against sin by the law of God? — "The soul that 
sinneth it shall die." And what constitutes the death of the 
soul? Not extinction of being — the image of God's eternity 
must needs be immortal; it cannot die in that sense in which 
the mortal body is resolved into its original dust. The death 
of the soul, then, must consist in privation of that good for 



SIN. 



which it was formed, in suffering that evil which it has wil- 
fully followed, and in enduring that punishment which is set 
forth in the torments of endless despair and everlasting burn- 
ings, "where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." 
Now, my friends, have you ever tried to realize perdition 
under any shape? Have you ever reflected on an eternity of 
suffering, measured in its degree only by the unlimited power 
of Omnipotence, and in its duration, by the capacitj^ of an 
immortal soul, in a body rendered imperishable to this very 
end? O, if you never have, let what has now been said awa- 
ken you to the solemn meditation, and lead you to a profita- 
ble application of this warning, and of the deliverance within 
your reach. 

To the conscience, to the reason, to the experience, then, 
of every soul now present, let me appeal. 

Is this testimony of God's word, a true and faithful witness 
on the subject before us? Do reason, and experience, and 
conscience, all unite in confirming this to be the true condi- 
tion of fallen man? — "carnal, sold under sin." Are we all 
conscious of "a law in our members, warring against the law 
of our minds?" Have we the experience, "that when we 
would do good evil is present with us?" Do we not see the 
good, and approve of the good, and yet find not how to do it? 
And is not this sufficient to convince us that there is an 
enemy within, which must be dispossessed before the divine 
image can be renewed in our hearts? Is it not of sufficient 
weight to interest and engage every being capable of thought, 
in this spiritual contest? "Awake, then, thou that sleepest, 
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." 
Awake, and look thy condition in the face. Be no longer 
blinded by the deceitfulness of sin, but learn the full extent 
of this mighty undoing — that Jesus Christ, and him cruci- 
fied, may be the anchor of hope to thy soul. He came to 
put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He came to pur- 
chase mercy and. grace for sinners penitent and believing. 
He came to destroy death, and him that had the power of 
death, and having finished the work he had undertaken for 
us men, and for our salvation, he calls to the ends of the 
earth, to come unto him and be saved. "To-day, then, if ye 
will hear his voice, harden rrot your hearts." Think not 



24 SET. 

lightly of that which cost the Son of God his life, to stay the 
sentence gone forth against it, and purchase a reprieve for 
sinners. Triilc not with the mortal disease which rankles in 
every fibre of soul and bodv with the cantaaKon of eternal 
death — hut come to the great physician of souls, who alone 
can arrest its progress and deprive it of its virulence. Come 
to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness in the blood 
of Ciii'iST, which takeih away the sins of the world. Come 
to the grace of the gospel, which renews the heart and re- 
forms the life. Hear his faithful promise — "sin shall not 
have dominion over you" — and let it impart strength to the 
sin-sick so.iii, to pray and not to faint. Hear his awful 
thrcatenings — "As for these mine enemies, who would not 
have me to reign over tliem, bring them hither, and slay 
them before my lace;'' and let it startle every delaying, par- 
leying sinner, to count the cost at which he is trilling with 
eternity. "0 that they were wise, that they understood this, 
that they would consider their latter end." Merciful God! 
un>top their ears, unclose their q\'c>, take the veil from their 
hearts, "that they may learn the things which make for their 
peace, before they arc for ever hid from their eyes, and 
iniquity prove their everlasting ruin." 




SERMOK III. 



SIN AND DEATH. 



Romans v. 12. 

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; 
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. 

Had heavenly wisdom never declared it to us, the cause of 
that sin and misery here, and of that eternal condemnation 
hereafter, to which we are all liable, my hearers, must for 
ever have remained hid from us, and aggravated the suffer- 
ings of time, by the hopelessness of any relief from them, 
even bj T the release of death. And it is but to consider the 
close connexion of what is revealed with our original inward 
impressions — the bearing it has upon our actual condition, 
and the universal relief it administers to our most pressing 
anxieties, to endear to our hearts the comfortable and blessed 
light which the gospel sheds over the dreary scene of this 
prison-house of sinners. I say universal relief, for even the 
sinner himself, though at war with God and the word of his 
grace, yet by a perversion without a parallel, takes comfort, 
from the discoveries therein made, against the horror and de- 
spair which must otherwise haunt every moment of cool re- 
flection. And I appeal to the law written in the heart of 
eve^ sinner present, whether he is not thereby condemned 
already; and to the knowledge which his education in a 
Christian land has given him of Jesus Christ, whether he 
makes him not the minister of sin, by a loose, inconsiderate 
expectation, that notwithstanding his heart condemns him, 
and the law of God condemns him, and the gospel of Chkist 
condemns him, yet somehow or another, God's mercy will 
excuse and acquit him at the judgment of the great day. 

If this be true — and I fear not the answer that can be 

given to it — it confirms the leading truth of revelation, set 

forth in my text, of the fallen, ruined condition of our nature, 

of the misery of our state, as aliens from God, and enemies 
[Vol. 2,— *3.] 



26 SIN T AND DEATH. 

to his purity and holiness, and of the hopelessness of our 
prospects from any thing in ourselves. For surely that per- 
son who sees the good, yet finds not how to do it, who does 
the evil which the law of his own mind and the law of God 
alike condemn him for, and, in such circumstances, turns 
with contempt and disgust from the offer of grace and mercy 
procured for him by the merits of another, must have lost the 
original character impressed on him by his Creator. 

Could this be doubted, the prevalence of the self-righteous 
principle in fallen man would confirm it; than which, the 
pride which ruins us, never sent forth a more destructive 
scion — for it consists in that presumptuous sense of his own 
worthiness, of the goodness of his heart, of the moral recti- 
tude of his life, which betravs the sinner into meeting the re- 
quirements of God's holy law, without a shield from that in- 
finite justice which demands, for every infraction of its 
purity, the tremendous vindication of eternal death. And it 
is at once a curious, instructive, and humbling exercise, to 
trace the workings of it in the heart, to consider how it pre- 
vails by the flattery of its approaches; how it wards off or dis- 
arms the testimony of the sinners own heart to the guilt of 
his life, balancing many directly sinful actions by one or 
more real virtues or amiable traits of constitutional character. 
It is true, will it say, you are profane in your conversation, 
but it is only habit, there is no malignity in your heart; you 
are lewd in your conduct, but you are just in your dealings 
and true to your word; you doubt whether you love God, but 
you show that you do so in the best sense, for you are friend- 
ly, liberal, and humane — you are charitable to the poor, and 
charity, you know, covers the multitude of sins. There is no 
occasion for uneasiness. If persons of your correct deport- 
ment are in danger of damnation, who, then, can be saved? 
And thus are thousands content to be hoodwinked by the 
ruinous sophistry, that because they are not the veriest pro- 
fligates that disgrace human nature, they are, therefore, in a 
safe way of salvation, and this in the very teeth of the mis- 
givings of their own hearts, that all is not right for eternity. 
But should these misgivings of mind be happily of a deeper 
and more hopeful nature, so as not to suffer them to rest 
satisfied with such commonplace defences; this evil spirit has 



SIN AND DEA.TH. 



27 



still further resources of the same description. Should the 
siuner really admit that he is such, it can tell him that we 
are all sinners in the sight of God; that as fallen creatures we 
cannot be otherwise; that God does not expect or require per- 
fection from such; that he has given his Son Jesus Christ to 
atone for our sins, and supply all the deficiencies of our frail 
and imperfect endeavors; that he only requires us to be sorry 
for our sins, to confess them, and trust in him for the pardon 
of them. And thus do multitudes stifle the convictions of a 
better spirit, and settle down upon the sandy foundation of 
their own righteousness, as far as it will go, and the mercy of 
God, with or without Jesus Christ, as it happens, for the 
balance. But, all this while, what God himself hath de- 
clared is unheeded; his acknowledged word lies unopened, 
unconsulted; his clear and express testimony that there is 
salvation for the race of Adam onl} r in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
"whom God hath made to be sin for us, that we might be 
made the righteousness of God in him," and that the justice 
of God can no otherwise harmonize with his mercy, in the 
justification even of a penitent sinner, than as that sinner is 
found united in Christ by a living faith, is wholly disregarded. 
Now let me ask this congregation of Christian people, do 
not those who thus act under the known and dread alterna- 
tive of eternal glory or everlasting misery, set their seal to 
the truth of the doctrine contained in my text, and demon- 
strate, not merely the fact as revealed in the word of God, 
but the desperate and deceitful nature of the malady under 
which we all labor, and from which a heavenly physician 
alone can recover us. 

But as they that are whole, or think themselves so, can 
hardly be persuaded to apply to the means of help and heal- 
ing, and as no danger is so great as that which really im- 
pends over us, but is neither seen or regarded, I shall en- 
deavor, with God's good help and blessing, so to apply the 
text as to demonstrate from the express declarations of God's 
word, from the confessions and acknowledgments of all holy 
men in all ages, and from the actual condition of all present, 
that there is nothing in us to warrant our meeting the judg- 
ment of God in our righteousness, or to propitiate his favor 
for our sins and imperfections. 



Si SIN AND DEATH. 

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and 
death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all 
have sinned." 

I. First, the express declarations of God's word. 

The Holt Ghost who inspired the writing of the Scrip- 
tures of our faith, i§ in nothing more earnest than to do away 
all occasion for pride and vain glory in the creature. And 
this, I am persuaded, from the knowledge, that of all our 
other vices, it is the most deeply rooted in human nature, 
and the most ruinous to our souls. The book of God, accord- 
ingly, abounds with most pointed lessons against the fatal 
consequences of this inveterate principle, and to teach us 
that humility which is the only entrance to all-saving know- 
ledge, sets before us the lowly original of our nature. "The 
Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." And when 
sin had deprived him of the image of God impressed upon 
this dust; when rebellion had driven him out from the presence 
of his Maker, condemned to toil and labor, exposed to sorrow 
and suffering, disease and death, his sentence was so ex* 
pressed as to remind him, would he but hear it, of his lowly 
origin. "In the sweat of thv face shalt thou eat bread till 
thou return to the ground: for out of it wert thou taken: for 
dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Here, as in 
a glass, my friends, we may see our humble origin, and learn 
how much lower 6in hath degraded us; here we may under- 
stand that pride was not made for man; that however rich or 
great, or noble or wise, it is in fact but earth and dust in its 
short progress to dust again; that however fair, or beauteous, 
or lovely, it is but a clod of the valley clothed with flowers, 
which shall wither and fade like the grass of the field; and 
that however imposing the exterior may be, if not quickened 
and renewed by the Spirit of Christ, the greatest and the 
fairest among us is not only the prey of death, but outcast 
from God and fuel for everlasting burnings. 

But it is in the effect of sin upon the soul that the word of 
God is most express in pointing out its deadly consequences 
— that it separated it for ever from all communion and inter- 
course with its maker — that it obliterated every divine and 
heavenly impression stamped on it by its Creator, when it 
came forth at his bidding "very good," to inhabit the body 



SIN AND DEATH. &* 

prepared for it; and though immortal in its nature, became 
so depraved and perverted as to relish only the perishing de- 
lights of time and sense. Hear the witness of the Spirit of 
God to this humbling truth. "God saw that the wickedness 
of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of 
the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." "The 
earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled 
with violence; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the 
earth." "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the 
children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, 
and seek God? Every one of them is gone back, they are 
altogether become filthy, there is none that doeth good, no 
not one." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." "The 
fool hath said in his heart there i6 no God." "Thou thoughtest 
that I was altogether such an one as thyself, but I will re- 
prove thee, and set thy wickedness in order before thine 
eyes." Thus, before the flood, and under the Old Testament 
dispensation after it, is there one unvarying testimony to the 
inherent depravity of fallen man; and the history we have of 
his conduct, both in the Scriptures and elsewhere, proves 
that it is a true and faithful witness. 

But, is there no difference, it may be asked, under the 
gospel, under the "grace and truth which came by Jesus 
Christ?" Alas! no. He is yet the same creature, sprung 
from the same corrupt root, and brings with him into the 
world the same mortal taint and infection. Hear him who 
knew what is in man, and poured out his soul unto death to 
redeem him from eternal death. "There is none good but 
one, that is God." 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh.' 
"Except a man be born again he cannot enter into the king- 
dom of God.' 'The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it 
is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' 'The 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,. 
for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, 
because they are spiritually discerned.' 'All have sinned and 
come short of the glory of God." Now let me ask, are these 
the true sayings of God? If they are, their influence is this 
moment at work in this congregation, and the spirit of every 
self-righteous sinner present rises against them, and is con- 
triving to elude the verdict of conscience in their favor. 



30 SIX AND DEATH. 

But you do it at your peri], for it proves the very point I am 
striving to bring borne to your hearts. O that God would be 
pleased to open them, that the truth may not prove the 
savor of death unto death. 

It may be said, however, that these are allegorical expres- 
sions, not to be taken according to the strictness of the letter, 
but with the necessary allowances for the florid and figura- 
tive style of Eastern writings. But in such case, of what 
value or authority would the Scriptures be, as the fixed and 
only rule of faith and practice? Who does not see, that on 
this principle all dependence on Scripture is doue away? 
Heaven and hell imiv be an allegory, as well as these revolt- 
ing but saving truths. To try tins subterfuge of unbelief, 
pride, and .-elf-righteousness, by the only safe rule, let us, 
in the 

II. Second place, hear the confessions and acknowledg- 
ments of all holy men in all ages. 

To begin with Job, who certainly confided more in the 
righteousness <>f his life, for the assurance of God's favor, 
than could be allowed under the light of the gospel. What 
is the testimony of this approved man to this point: "How 
should man lie just w ith God? If he will contend with him 
be cannot answer him one of a thousand, how much less 
shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with 
him whem though I were righteous yet would I not answer, 
but I would make supplication to my judge. If I justify 
m\-elf mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am 
perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were per- 
fect yet would I not know my soul, 1 would despise my life. 
If I wash myself with snow water and make my hands never 
so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch and mine 
own clothes shall abhor me. Who can bring a clean thing 
out of an unclean? Not one. How, then, can man be justi- 
fied with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a 
woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not, yea, 
the stars are not pure in his sight, how much less man, that 
is a worm, and the soti of man which is a worm? 1 ' And at 
the close of his trial, when it pleased God to turn his mourn- 
ing into rejoicing, and make a clearer manifestation of him- 
self to his righteous servant, what was the effect? Deeper 



SIN AND DEATH. 31 

humiliation and self-abasement. "I have heard of thee by 
the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, where- 
fore, I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." 

What is the confession of David, the man after God's own 
heart, an inspired prophet, and a type of the Messiah: ''Be- 
hold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother con- 
ceive me." "Who can tell how oft he offendeth." "O cleanse 
thou me from my secret faults." "Enter not into judgment 
with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living 
be justified." 

What acknowledgment doth Daniel make in this behalf — 
a man whom his very enemies admitted they could find no 
occasion against, unless they found it concerning the law of 
God. "0 Lord the great and dreadful God, keeping the 
covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that 
keep his commandments, we have sinned, and have commit- 
ted iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, 
even by departing from thy precepts and thy judgments." 

Whatsaith John the Baptist, who was more than a prophet, 
and sanctified with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb. 
"I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" 
What is St. Paul's confession? "I know that in me dwelleth 
no good thing." And though he could say, that touching 
the righteousness which is in the law, that is, the outward 
morality of his life, he was blameless — "yet what things were 
gain to me," says he, "those I counted loss for Christ. Tea, 
doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have 
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, 
that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having 
mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which 
is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of 
God by faith." 

What is the acknowledgment of St. John, the beloved dis- 
ciple? "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, 
and the truth is not in us; if we say that we have not sinned, 
we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 

And what is the confession of every true Christian from 
that day to this? "Not by works of righteousness which we 
have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." 



32 SIN AND DEATH. 

Now, then, let me ask, is there any thing allegorical or 
figurative in these plain and direct confessions of sin, original 
and actual, and of the utter worthlessness of every thing that 
can be done by a fallen, imperfect creature, to propitiate and 
please a just and perfect God? No, it is matter of fact and 
of experience, as is ready to be testified by every Christian 
present. How, then, shall those escape who resist such con- 
clusive testimony, and refuse a righteousness perfect and 
complete, provided for them by the mercy of God, in Christ 
Jesus? O flee to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope — tarry 
not in the plain, however pleasant it may appear — and look 
not behind you, neither turn back to gather up the filthy 
rags of your own righteousness — they will but encumber 
vour flight, and mar vour progress to the citv of refuge, 

III. For, thirdly, the actual condition of all present is such 
as to prove beyond dispute, that in our own righteousness we 
cannot stand the severity of God's judgment. 

To satisfy you on this point, let us first consider what that 
God is, whom we have thus to meet. Now can any of you, 
even the wisest among you, tell me any thing of his nature 
and attributes, by a knowledge of your own? How, then, 
are we to know any thing of him, unless by revelation? And 
what, in this respect, says the true and faithful witness, who 
was with him from the beginning, and hath plainly showed 
us of the Father? Pure, holy, perfect, and unchangeable; 
who cannot behold iniquity, or look upon sin with the least 
degree of allowance — yet gracious and merciful, compassion- 
ate and long-suffering — not willing that any should perish. 
Do you require a proof of his hatred of sin? Behold him 
exacting from his only Son, as our representative, the penalty 
due to it, as the sole condition of its pardon. Do you want 
one of his loving kindness and tender mercy? Behold it in 
his u so loving the world that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have 
everlasting life." But what is sin? Sin is the transgression 
of the unchangeable law of this pure and holy being, in any 
of its literal or spiritual requirements. "Cursed is every one 
that continueth not, in all things written in the Book of the 
Law, to do them." 

And now let us all view ourselves in the glass of this Holy 



SEN AN© DEATH. 33 

Law — do we -perfectly fulfil either of the two great command- 
ments, into which all the others are resolvable, in the love of 
God and our neighbor? Do we love the glorious God and 
Father of the spirits of all flesh, with all our heart, and soul, 
and strength, without abatement or intermission? Do we 
love our neighbor as ourselves? Has selfishness, hatred, or 
envy no part in us? If to neither of these we can answer a 
word, but must all lay our hands upon our mouths, what 
possible ground can there be for the self-righteous delusion, 
under which so many are posting to the consuming fire of 
God's righteous judgment? 

But it will be said, God does not now require perfect un- 
sinning obedience from us. What! God not require perfect 
obedience from those who proudly stand in their own right- 
eousness? Why, what saith the law? "The man that doeth 
these things shall live by them." But what if he doeth them 
not? "The soul that sinneth it shall die." But to come a 
little closer yet. Have you committed one sin; have you 
taken the name of God in vain; have you profaned his day 
of holy rest and privileged worship? Have you given way 
to hatred or revenge; have you defrauded or exacted; have 
you lusted or coveted; and this even in thought; what becomes 
of you? Where is your boasted righteousness? But we 
repent of our sins, and are sorry for them, you will say. But 
I say, that without faith in Christ you do a needless work, 
and one that will profit you nothing; for there is no room left 
for repentance in the law itself; nor, from the very nature of 
the thing, can there be provision of mercy, in favor of the 
violater of it, in any law, divine or human. Such a provision 
would nullify it as a law, and invite to the breach of what it 
forbids. Mercy and means to undo wrong must be sought 
for elsewhere. But did not Christ die for us, and redeem 
human nature from the curse under which it labored? Yes. 
"Blessed be the merciful God, who freely delivered him for 
us all — that he by the grace of God should taste death for 
every man." But let me ask, does the name of Christ act 
like a charm, and save those who never have recourse to it, 
as set forth in the gospel — who are such righteous, good sort 
of people, that they do not need his interposition but in part? 
Oh! what a cruel and desperate disease, is this deep-rooted 



34 



SIN AND DEATH. 



and wide-spread propensity in our fallen nature, to be in 
whole or in part our own saviours. How does it cast con- 
tempt on the gospel of our salvation, and make the blood of 
Christ a needless thing! How does it bar up the door of our 
hearts, against the entrance of that conviction of our sinful, 
lost, and undone condition, which alone makes Christ precious 
to the believer! How does it stupify, and stifle, and drown 
the wholesome convictions of the Holt Spirit, as belonging 
only to the very profligates of our race! Did it not thus act 
on the self-righteous Pharisees, my hearers, who rejected the 
preaching, both of John and of our Saviour, while the Pub- 
licans and harlots pressed into the kingdom of God before 
them? Oh! how many estimable persons, how many dear 
and precious souls, are dreaming out their day of grace, under 
this delusion — turning aside the arrows of God's true and 
faithful word, and crying "peace, peace, when there is no 
peace." How many are indolently resting on the general 
proclamation of the gospel, for mercy with God, through 
Jesus Christ, who have not even taken the first step towards 
securing that mercy, by professing his religion, confessing 
his name before men, and partaking of the ordinances he hath 
appointed in his Church, who are, in fact, afraid and ashamed 
of the self-denials these things draw after them, but never 
think of the awful threatening — "Whosoever shall be ashamed 
of me and my words, in an adulterous and sinful generation, 
of him will I be ashamed before my Father and the Holy 
Angels.'' O thou, who art thus sleeping, "awake, and arise 
from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Hear him 
calling to the ends of the earth to come, unto him, and be 
saved. Hear him declaring, that whosoever cometh unto 
him, he will in no wise cast out. Be no longer faithless, but 
believing — for unto thee is the word of this salvation sent. 
But come as a sinner, for he also declares that he "came not 
to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" — for the sick 
only have need of the physician. 

And let not the plain and unadorned manner in which I 
have endearored to set before you the mortal disease, under 
which we all labor, my hearers, revolt you again9t the whole- 
some warning. To speak smooth things, and to prophesy 
deceits, might please more, perhaps, for the little hour you 



SIN AND DEATH. 35 

were listening; but what, then, becomes of your souls and 
my own? How deep and loud would your curses be upon 
me, when together we shall prove the truth or falsehood of 
this doctrine, in the great day of Eternity; but how much 
deeper the curse of God upon my soul, for healing the hurt 
of the daughters of his people slightly; and, as the Lord's 
watchman, failing to warn the wicked from his way. God 
being my helper, your blood shall not be required at my 
hand. I might, indeed, have set before you the rich mercy 
of God in Christ Jesus to his creatures, or I might have ex- 
patiated upon the joys and glories which await the righteous 
in the presence of God, and been to you "as the sound of 
one who has a pleasant voice and can play well upon an in- 
strument." But such is our miserable condition, that, until 
convinced that we need mercy, we spurn the offer: and the 
glories of heaven are prepared for those only "who, by faith, 
*are made the righteousness of God in him whom God hath 
made to be sin for us;" for those who, born from above, bring 
forth the fruits of their heavenly birth, in all holiness of life 
and godliness of conversation, and, overcoming the world by 
faith in the Son of God, shall be accounted worthy to sit 
down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. But to this the 
righteousness of the creature is an insuperable bar, and as 
surely excludes from the Paradise of God as the flaming 
sword of the cherubim kept the way of the tree of life from 
our fallen first parents. 

Suffer, then, the word of exhortation; take its leading truth 
to your private meditations and prayers; bring it to the law 
and to the testimony in the word of life; and may that light 
which is the life of men shine into your hearts and guide you 
to light and glory eternal. 

And you, my Christian brethren, who know and confess 
"that in the Lord only have we righteousness and strength," 
whose constant cry is, "not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but 
unto thy great name be given the glory and the praise;" 
cease not to strive together in your prayers to God, for these, 
your brethren, and with them in your lives — letting your 
light so shine before men that all may take knowledge of you 
that you have been with Jesus. Strengthen not the self- 
righteous delusion under which they labor, by such conform- 



36 8IK AND DEATH. 

ity to the world, in any of its pursuits or pleasures, as shall 
bring down the difference between you to a mere name. 
Alas the day! when a Christian has to sound a trumpet be- 
fore him, to tell what he is; for though it is no excuse to them, 
yet is it a reproach to that holy name by the which ye are 
called, and strengthens the unbelief of those who seek oc- 
casion against the gospel. Remember that it is not crying 
Lord, Lord, that will open the gate of eternal life to you, 
but the doing the will of your father which is in heaven. 
Remember that feelings and fervors are not fruits, and that 
every tree which beareth not good fruit is hewn down and 
cast into the fire. Let your fruit, then, be unto holiness, that 
the end may be everlasting life. 

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead 
our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through 
the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in 
every good work to do his will, working in you that which 
is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom 
be glory fur ever and ever. Amen." 



SERMON IV. 

DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 



Hebrews iii. 13, last clause. 
Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of Bin. 

The words immediately connected with my text, are the 
following: 

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be, in any of you, an evil 
heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But 
exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day; lest any 
of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." 

We learn from them, that all sin is a departure from the 
living God — a separation of ourselves from his service be- 
cause we prefer another master. That this separation from 
God, in becoming the servants of sin, proceeds from unbelief 
— from the want of a serious and full persuasion of the heart, 
that the promises and threatenings of Almighty God, revealed 
in his word, are actually his fixed and unchangeable purpose. 
And it is called an evil heart of unbelief, because it is a wil- 
ful rejection of the plainest declarations and most undeniable 
testimony that can be made and given; nothing being more 
certain than that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven 
against all unrighteousness of men, and that this revelation 
is in our hands by the gospel. Against this the apostle cau- 
tions Christians to take heed, that is, to be on their guard, 
for themselves, and to exhort each other continually, as against 
a danger very artful and insidious in its commencement and 
progress, and most destructive in its consequences. 

A common danger and a common duty, therefore, my 
brethren, will engage us all, I trust, in exertions for the com- 
mon benefit. For the direction here given is the same in 
substance with the old commandment — "Thou shalt in any 
wise rebuke thy neighbour and not suffer sin upon him;" and 
is, in the truest and highest sense, a fulfilling of the new com- 
mandment — "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." 



38 DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 

That we may the better understand the ground and reason 
of this duty, I will endeavor to explain, 

First, what is meant by being hardened in sin. 

Secondly, I will point out what are the causes of men's 
growing hardened in sin. 

Thirdly, I will show how insufficient these causes are to 
excuse their guilt. 

Lastly, I shall enforce the obligation of my text upon 
Christians, to mutual encouragement and assistance in work- 
ing out their salvation. 

"Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of 
sin." 

I. First, to explain what is meant by being hardened in sin. 

Being hardened in sin undoubtedly means, in this connex- 
ion, the being shut up and concluded under the power and 
dominion of sin, or, as it is otherwise expressed, the being 
given over to a reprobate mind; and it is against this awful 
condition, as the final result of sin indulged and persisted in, 
that the apostle utters his warning. Hence we learn, my 
friends, that there is a progression in the finally impenitent 
character, increasing in danger and malignity as we continue 
to disregard the warnings and admonitions of the word, of 
God, of our friends, and of our consciences; and we also 
learn, that the inevitable consecpience of sin persisted in, is 
the destruction of the moral sense and of all hope or capacity 
of salvation. 

But as there are degrees or grades in this hardening, it is 
against these, in every stage, that we are exhorted to be on 
our guard, and to caution one another. 

Of these degrees, a thoughtless yet criminal unconcern on 
the subject of religion is the lowest; it is also the most fre- 
quent; and if not arrested by serious reflection, by the admo- 
nition of friends, or by some startling Providence, continues 
gradually to plunge men deeper into unbelief. In such per- 
sons we may remark a strange inattention to every thing 
connected with religion, a disregard of the clearest evidence 
and arguments in favor of it, and a prodigality of youth, of 
health, and fortune, in the dissipations or pursuits of the 
world, as if they had not time, even if they had the inclina- 
tion, to listen to any thing in behalf of their souls. 



DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 39 

This primarily thoughtless unconcern, however, is, before 
long, succeeded by a perverseness of temper which not only 
neglects but resents admonition, and may be considered as 
the next stage in the process of hardening. The deceitful 
influence of sin has gradually overcome that levity of mind 
which distinguishes the youthful novice in the ways of vice, 
and trained him up to regard whatever is opposed to his 
course, as an enemy; and here begins that strain of infidel 
objection to revelation, that proud entertainment of doubt as 
to its truth, certainty, and importance, which disfigures so 
many minds evidently intended for better things, and is so 
fruitful in gaining proselytes from less gifted but equally 
passion-driven followers of the flesh and of the mind. The 
word of God, they well know r , is unrelentingly opposed to all 
that they delight in. It must, therefore, be invalidated in 
some way; and to the love of sin, my hearers, we owe every 
effort against the Scriptures. Never was there yet an infidel, 
but from the love of sin in some of its many deceits. 

From this state of opposition to truth and reason, the pro- 
gress is rapid to the last stage of hardness and impenitency. 
To that fixed love of what is directly immoral, that aversion 
to every thing of a religious nature, that stubborn, callous 
disposition, which is alike impenetrable to the fear or the fa- 
vor of Almighty God, which is described in Scripture as "hav- 
ing the understanding darkened and the mind blinded," as 
"being past feeling, and reprobate to every good work," as 
"given over to vile affections, to work all uncleanness with 
greediness," as "being sold under sin." 

This it is to be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, 
according to the Scriptural meaning of that expression; and 
as we have instances of this wretched condition continually 
before our eyes, not onby in actual outbreaking wickedness, 
but in the equally fatal influence of some master sin, occupy- 
ing the heart against God, nothing further needs be said either 
to point it out or to explain it. 

II. Secondly, 1 am to point out to you the causes of men's 
growing hardened in sin. 

The first cause or occasion of our bein£ drawn into sin is, 
our natural frailty, and the temptations to which we are ex- 
posed. The one is the consequence of our fallen condition; 



40 DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 

the other is a necessary attendant on a state of trial. It is 
the allurement of temptations from without and of passions 
from within, therefore, which, properly speaking, form the 
deceitfulness of sin. Deceit, we all know, is the promise, in 
some way, of enjoyment or advantage, which is not made 
good; and in this view sin is the completest deception that 
was ever played, off upon rational beings. For in its verj r 
highest attainments there is no perpetuity, and even what 
gratification there is, is sooner or later followed by disap- 
pointment, suffering, and remorse. 

We are surrounded by various enticements to evil, and the 
weakness of our fallen nature and the wilfulness of inordinate 
desire is too prone to comply with them. The oftener we do 
so the more do we increase their strength; the less able and. 
the less willing do we become to resist them. Custom in sin 
silences the conscience, habit becomes inveterate, so that, as 
the Scripture expresses it, "we cannot cease from sin," till 
at length we may truly be said to be hardened through the 
deceitfulness of sin, deluded by it and besotted to it, stupid- 
ly regardless of our real good, deaf to admonition, impatient 
of restraint. 

The next cause of men's continuing in sin is, the custom of 
the world and the frequency of example. 

Experience teaches us, my hearers, that the oftener we 
commit any sin ourselves, or see it committed by others, the 
mure indifferent does it grow to us; we are too quickly accus- 
tomed to it, and, in no long time, shake off that fear and alarm 
whicli all, more or less, feel at first. We become familiarized 
to sin; it is a school in which we are apt scholars, and take 
our degrees with great applause. This miserable delusion is 
encouraged in various ways — "evil communications corrupt 
good manners:" — but the most common is, the strange notion 
that the evil is not great because we are no worse than our 
neighbors, perhaps not so bad as some of them; as if the be- 
ing countenanced by companions could lessen guilt, or the 
number of criminals either decrease crime or lighten its pun- 
ishment. Hence it comes to pass, that whatever offence a- 
gainst the law of God is most common is least censured, while 
another, no more sinful and blame-worthv, is marked with, 
infamy only because less frequent and less familiar. 



DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 



41 



A third means of becoming hardened in sin is, a false and 
unscriptural notion of the mercy of God. 

This, my brethren and hearers, is, undoubtedly, the most 
fertile delusion which Satan ever invented to deceive rational 
beings to their ruin. Clemency and compassion form so con- 
spicuous a part of the character of the Deity, as revealed to 
us, that we are apt to forget his other attributes; and this is 
increased by the propensity of our nature to consider as ac- 
tually such, what we greatly desire should be so. In such 
case temptation finds us more than half overcome, our fallen 
nature is on the side of the enemy; and when this is encour- 
aged by the hope of impunit} 7 , sin prevails to the establish- 
ment of its dominion over us. "The wish is father to the 
thought," and we are soon persuaded to risk even eternity on 
so slender a foundation; and I am sure that I have only to 
appeal to the hearts of all present for the proof of this power- 
ful cause of men's becoming hardened in sin. 

In the fourth place, M r e become hardened in sin by faint, 
irresolute, procrastinated promises and purposes of amend- 
ment. 

Next to unauthorized trust in God's mercy this that I have 
just mentioned is the great betrayer of the souls of men into 
a state of confirmed sinfulness; and the reason is perfectly 
obvious. There is a close connexion between guilt and un- 
easiness of mind. The sinner, until thoroughly hardened, 
feels and betrays this uneasiness, and to escape from it he re- 
sorts to the compromise of future repentance; thus lulling and 
blinding his conscience, while the enemy is daily drawing 
closer around him those cords of everlasting misery and de- 
spair which await the sinner who thus trifles with the awaken- 
ings of the Holy Spirit and the long suffering mercy and re- 
vealed wrath of Almighty God. 

Lastly, that which completes the hardening power of sin, 
and shows that it has full dominion over body and soul, is, 
denying religion, scoffing at its sanctions, and becoming ad- 
vocates for infidelity. \ 

When men have lived in such a manner that they have 
every thing to fear, and nothing to hope, from religion, their 
only resource is to treat it as a forgery — to give importance 
to every objection against it — that they may obtain some 

[Vol. '2,—*4.] 



42 DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 

present relief against the remembrance of those sins, which 
vet they are determined not to forsake. And herein, my 
brethren and hearers, is showed the concluding power of sin 
persisted in, to harden the heart and close up every avenue 
to pardon and peace. 

The religion of the gospel denounces the wrath of God, for 
ever, against sin; and, at the same time, offers to the sinner 
the means of escape from this unalterable curse. This the 
resolved sinner knows — throughout his whole course of re- 
bellion against God it has repeatedly been pressed upon him 
— but he would not hear; and in the last struggle of the Holy 
Spirit with him for his soul, it is again presented to his 
thoughts. But so hardened has he become, that the only 
medicine which can heal him is rejected, is scoffed at, and 
vilified as a cheat and imposition — as a contrivance of priest- 
craft, to deprive men of their liberty, and make them the 
slaves and the dupes of superstition and fraud. As St. Jude 
expresses it — "Clouds they are without water, carried about 
of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice 
dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foam- 
ing out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is re- 
served the blackness of darkness for ever." 

III. Third) v, I am to show vou how insufficient these 
causes are to excuse their guilt. 

Xothing is more frequently or freely resorted to, as an ex- 
cuse for sin, than our natural frailty and the strength of 
temptation. But, that it forms no reasonable justification of 
transgression, will abundantly appear from the following 
considerations. 

]S"o single instance can be mentioned, in which we are 
under the necessity of following any passion or inclination, 
beyond its lawful bounds. Whatever the temptation may be, 
every man must be conscious that he has power over the out- 
ward act, at the least; and, therefore, giving way to tempta- 
tion, especially at the beginning, is a voluntary act. Indeed? 
until the conscience has become deadened by the effects of 
sin, no man ever commits a wicked or even a foolish action 
without wishing he had not done it, and condemning himself 
for so doing, which proves his consciousness that he had 
power to refrain from it, and that he ought to have exerted it. 



DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 43 

Again, it is the result of observation and experience, that 
men are restrained from many crimes by the laws of their 
country, by respect for particular characters, by the fear of 
disgrace, and the dread of present punishment. Now this 
undeniably shows, that no necessity to sin is laid upon any 
man, and, therefore, that all wickedness is voluntary, and 
justly charged as our own act. 

Once more, admitting the most that can be desired in ex- 
cuse for sin from the frailty of our nature and the power of 
temptation, it will avail us nothing before our judge, because 
he has provided and offered the assistance of his grace to 
supply our weakness, in the strength whereof all temptation 
is powerless. If, therefore, we neglect or refuse to apply for 
this help, we are doubly guilty — not only guilty of the sinful 
act, but guilty of slighting that offered and effectual help 
through which temptation could have been resisted and over- 
come. 

Let no man, therefore, pretend to excuse his sin by the 
strength of the temptation which led to it. God will not suffer 
us to be tempted beyond the provision he has made for us to 
resist it. Therefore, if we yield, we dishonor God, both by dis- 
trusting and disobeying him; if we can withstand temptation 
in some cases, we mav in all; if human laws can control sin- 
ful actions, much more ought the laws of God to hold them 
in subjection; if the presence of an earthly superior can con- 
trol and check the vicious and the profligate in their be- 
haviour, the consideration that the eye of heaven is contin- 
ually upon us, ought to be a much more powerful restraint 
upon rational beings; if the laws, and the judges, and the 
prisons, and the gibbets of this world are of force to deter 
criminals from their evil works, what should be the restrain- 
ing power of the law, and the judge, and the prison, and the 
sentence, and the execution of eternity? Oh! what an auda- 
cious criminal is the gospel sinner, who wilfully sets at nought 
both the fear of man and the power of God. 

Equally unfounded is the excuse made for sin, from the 
custom of the world and the frequency of bad example. 

If the guilt of sin decreased in the ratio that the numbers 
committing sin increased, there would be some sense and 
reason in giving way to such a course. Indeed, it would be 



44 DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 

the interest of every man to hasten into sin, in order to re- 
duce the amount as low as possible: but as such an imagi- 
nation is a complete absurdity, so is the excuse for sin, from 
custom and example, as complete a folly. Sin can neither 
lose its character nor be separated from its consequences by 
combinations in its favor, any more than the plague can be- 
come less dangerous and mortal in proportion as those in- 
fected with it increase in number. 

Again, if fellowship in suffering lessened the pain of in- 
dividual torment, the folly of deriving encouragement to sin, 
or of feeling quiet and unconcerned under the practice of it, 
from the custom and example of the world, would be less 
intolerable. But when reason and experience both convince 
us that it is not so; when the analogy of present pain certifies 
to our senses, that individual anguish is in no degree miti- 
gated by one or by one hundred others suffering at the same 
time, or in the same manner, with ourselves; this dangerous 
deceit of sin should be abandoned as a snare to our souls. 

And, further, -if the fallacy, that numbers in the same con- 
demnation will have a favorable effect on the sentence of the 
judge, has found any place in our thoughts, it ought at once 
to be abandoned, when we reflect that "God hath no need of 
the sinful man," and has solemnly declared, u that though 
hand join in hand yet shall not the wicked go unpunished." 

In like maimer, my brethren and hearers, of that most ex- 
tensive delusion in favor of the deceitfulness of sin, unfound- 
ed reliance upon the mercy of God, which is exactly what St. 
Paul describes by "continuing in sin that grace may abound." 

It is undoubtedly a ground of the most solid comfort to 
know, that the world is under the government of a wise, 
omnipotent, and good being, "whose tender mercies are over 
all his works;" but as a bad use may be made of the best 
things, and the plainest truths may be perverted or misap- 
plied, we should be very careful not to deceive ourselves by 
wrongly considering the divine perfections. To confine the 
Deity to one single attribute, or, what is the same thing, to ex- 
alt one in such wise as to supersede the exercise of the others 
in his dealings with his creatures, is to deprive him of that 
without which he could neither be a wise governor or a righte- 
ous judge. Rewards and punishments are equally necessary in 



DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 4:5 

the government of moral creatures; we are sensible of their 
good effects in the present life, and must believe them equally 
necessary as regards the life that is to come. A righteous 
God must punish the wicked, or be unjust to himself and to 
the righteous. The vindication of his truth requires it, as well 
as the honor of his holy law, broken by sinners; besides, how 
unlimited soever we conceive his mercy to be, still it has its 
rule in the application. It can, therefore, only be applied to 
capable subjects, and as impenitent sinners are not of that 
number, they can never taste of it. The mercy of God is re- 
vealed for our comfort and encouragement; its object is, to 
lead us to repentance, not to confirm us in sin; and unless it 
produces this effect, it will but the more deeply condemn us. 
It was purchased by the blood of Christ, poured out upon 
the cross, and it is revealed that God may be feared and not 
sported with. 

The folly and unreasonableness of putting off till some 
future time, that repentance and amendment of life, which 
is indispensable to pardon of sin and acceptance with God, 
will be evident, I trust, from the following considerations: 

The intention to repent and amend the life at some future 
time, is an acknowledgment, that in whole or in part, it is at 
present wrong, and contrary to the known will of God. To 
delay, then, is, of set purpose, wilfully and deliberately to 
affront the Almighty, by professing to intend that, which, 
nevertheless, we do not mean to comply with. In truth, for 
the time reserved, it is an unqualified preference of sin, in- 
compatible with any sincere intention of ever forsaking it, and 
as such, a most frequent cause of being given over to hard- 
ness of heart. For, if it be necessary and right to repent and 
amend, it can never be either necessary or right to put off so 
important a work. If sin be justly liable to the wrath of God, 
it must be the more so the longer it is persisted in. If re- 
pentance is now irksome to think of and difficult to commence, 
will it not become more irksome and difficult through the 
inveterate power of sin, more and more confirmed by delaj? 
May not God be provoked to cut you off, and death overtake 
you and prevent your purpose, even if it be real? Now all 
this is very possible, and very dreadful to think of; yet it has 
happened to thousands, and there is no reason can be given, 



46 



DANGEE OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 



nor any assurance offered, why it may not happen to every 
delaying sinner present, who is in this wise parleying with 
destruction. 

As to the last resort of the resolved sinner, in renouncing 
religion and becoming the advocate of infidelity, words are 
insufficient to express the greatness of his folly. For by this 
he completely shuts the door against hope for ever, there be- 
ing hope for the sinner no where but in the gospel. 

The highest stretch of thought, the most unbounded imagi- 
nation of the nature and properties of the Supreme Being, 
which man can indulge, present no hope, can draw no con- 
jecture even, of what awaits us after death, without aid from 
Revelation. The infidel, therefore, or rejector of the gospel, 
for they are the same, does in fact extinguish, as to himself, 
the light of life; and all that he can possibly gain by it is, re- 
lief for the present from the fear of hell. This is the very ut- 
most — but with this, remember, he renounces any possible 
expectation of heaven, and thus brings his being down to a 
level with the beasts that perish. But, my hearers, there is 
such a thing as religion, let who will disbelieve it. There are 
such places as heaven and hell, in spite of all the efforts of 
all the infidels that have been since Adam. Yes, and there 
are such. things as death and judgment too, to which the 
hardiest unbeliever must come, as well as the humblest 
Christian. And there are everlasting burnings for sin, which 
infidels cannot quench, and eternal joys for righteousness, 
which neither unbelievers nor devils can deprive them of, 
and which these shall never taste. Well, then, is it enjoined 
upon Christians, to exhort one another continually against 
the deceitfulness of sin, and the following arguments may 
serve to enforce this duty, and as an application of the subject. 

In whatever light the careless and the thoughtless, the 
young and the gay, the libertine and the infidel, may choose 
to view sin — to the Christian it presents but one aspect. To 
him it is the thing which God abhors, which he has expressly 
forbidden, and will everlastingly punish. To him it is the 
cause of all the misery that is in this world, both to himself 
and to others; and will be the cause of all the horror and de- 
spair which the finally impenitent must endure for ever in 
the torments of hell. If, therefore, he is worthy of the name 



DANGER OF BEING HARDENED In SIN. 47 

of Christian, if he possesses a spark of that benevolence and 
good will towards his fellow creatures, which is the spirit of 
religion, he will not remain listless and unconcerned for the 
multitudes of immortal souls all around him, who are madly 
driving down the broad and beaten road of everlasting de- 
struction. He will not be content with his example merely, 
but, by every prudent and affectionate remonstrance and per- 
suasion — by every argument of reason and religion, will en- 
deavor to prevail with those he has access to or influence 
over, to see their danger and to escape from it. 

Another consideration to enforce this duty upon Christians 
is, that their own experience both entitles and enables them 
to perform it with effect. 

The Christian is obliged to know something of sin and its 
deceits, from dear-bought experience. He must have felt its 
strength, detected its cunning, proved its misery, and learned 
how to resist and overcome its power. Upon whom then more 
properly can this duty be laid, than upon those who are thus 
qualified by experience, to warn, exhort, and instruct others 
— who are prompted by feeling, and furnished with know- 
ledge, to guide the unwary and inexperienced, through the 
snares and pit-falls of temptation, acting upon depraved and 
unniastered passions. 

A third argument to enforce this duty, is to be drawn from 
the returns the Christian owes to his God and Saviour, for his 
own deliverance from the deceitfulness and power of sin. 

"We love him because he first loved us," says every true 
disciple of the Lord Jesus Chkist. But, "if a man say, I 
love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar," says the apos- 
tle, "for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, 
how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?" What higher 
proof, then, can be given of hatred, that is, of unconcern for, 
of indifference to our brother, on the one hand — or of love, 
that is, of regard for, of affectionate interest in him, on the 
other, than the neglect or performance of this Christian duty. 
Moreover, Christians pray continually, "thy kingdom come." 
But the kingdom of God is the reign of righteousness, the 
prevalence of true religion, which can only come to pass by 
the defeat and destruction of sin, in its power over man. 
Do we, then, wish our prayers to be heard and answered? 



48 DANGER OF BEING HARDENED IN SIN. 

Do we truly desire the present and eternal welfare of our 
children, relations, brethren, friends, and fellow-creatures? — 
Are we in earnest working out our own salvation? Let us 
remember, my brethren, that it is an indispensable part of it 
"to exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any 
be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." 

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and 
to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with 
exceeding joy — to the only wise God our Saviour — Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, be glory and majesty, dominion and 
power, both now and ever. Amen. 








SEEMON" Y. 



WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 

* 

Daniel xii. 10, latter part. 
And none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 

m 

Whether we consider these words as an elucidation of an 
effect by assigning its cause, or as an appointment of that 
wisdom which ruleth over all, their importance to us is just 
the same, my brethren. Their truth is confirmed by obser- 
vation and experience of human conduct, and the warning 
and instruction to be drawn from them is directly practical- 
Opposition to the gospel is here assigned to its true cause, 
the wickedness of man, and an opposite conduct is set forth 
as the consequence of a serious consideration of revealed 
truth. 

The improvement I shall endeavor to make of the text, 
therefore, will be, to show, by some examples, how it comes 
to pass that the practice of wickedness shuts the understand- 
ing against the reception of divine truth. And on the other 
hand, wherefore it is, that a virtuous life disposes the mind 
to receive and the heart to embrace the gospel, and, then, 
conclude with some practical inferences from the subject. 

"And none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise 
shall understand." 

I. First, I am to show by some examples, how it comes to 
pass, that the practice of wickedness shuts the understanding 
against the reception of divine truth. 

With whatever variety of natural disposition we may come 
into the world, my brethren, (and I am disposed to think 
that it is very great,) as fallen creatures, our ultimate cha- 
racter will depend entirely upon the care and pains taken to 
form it. That the seeds of sin manifest themselves very early 
in all, is, unhappily, too true, and, therefore, the greater re- 
sponsibility is laid upon those who have the care and charge 
of young persons committed to them. For though the cor- 



50 WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 

ruptions of our nature manifest themselves from the first, yet 
the rich provision of divine grace, giving effect to careful in- 
struction, watchful restraint, and judicious correction, is fully 
competent to subdue and rout out those corruptions, to cher- 
ish and mature good dispositions, and fortify the mind to re- 
sist the temptations and perfect the virtues of active life. And 
even where this lias been neglected, there is vet no excuse 
or license for wickedness; for when reason is matured and 
men undertake the direction of their own actions, it is incum- 
bent on them to reflect upon the end they have in view, on 
the just purposes of the present life, and on the unspeakable 
interests of the life that is to come. These are proper sub- 
jects for the exercise of the rational faculties, and are in such 
a sen.-e duties of the highest obligation that there is no ac- 
countable being who does not, in some way, and to some ex- 
tent, pass them in review. And though the difficulty and 
the danger of making a wise choice is greatly enhanced by 
the previous neglect, yet the same divine grace is still present 
to lend its salutary and effectual aid in favor of religion and 
virtue. The practice of wickedness, then, is always matter 
of choice, and hence it is that the wicked and the righteous 
are contrasted in the text and throughout the Scriptures by 
the lolly .,r the wisdom of their respective pursuits. "None 
of the wieked shall understand, but the wise shall under- 
stand." 

This is fully exemplified in the profligate and debauched 
of all agee. However acute their understandings may be in 
other things, however well informed their minds mav be in 
general, yet on this subject it is literally true, that they have 
eyes and Bee not, ears have they yet they hear not, and hearts 
but they understand not. The natural, indeed the inevitable 
tendency of a vicious disposition is, to corrupt the principles 
and subvert the judgment. Spiritual things cannot be dis- 
cerned, however clearly propounded; and having lost all rel- 
ish for any thing above sense, the claims and the duties, the 
hopes and the fears, of religion, are foolishness unto them. 
I low often do we see it the case, my hearers, when these 
high, and holy, and awful things are proposed to such per- 
sons, that they can by no means be made to comprehend 
them, they cannot even be induced to consider them — or, if 



WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLI¥DNESS. 51 

they venture to answer, it is in such wise as to show, that 
they have "become vain in their imaginations, and their fool- 
ish heart is darkened." 

But, further, the love of sin, and the practice of wicked- 
ness, not only blinds men's minds, and hinders them from 
considering and applying divine truth, but it, moreover, pre- 
judices them against it, and causes them even to hate it, and 
become its professed enemies. "They hate to be reformed, 
and, therefore, cast God's words behind them." "Their carnal 
mind is enmity against God, and, therefore, is not subject to 
the law of God, neither indeed can be." The person who 
gives them the best advice comes to be considered as their 
enemy, because he tells them the truth. They knowingly 
"choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are 
evil," and reject the truth, "because they have pleasure in 
unrighteousness." Thus the Scriptures describe the effects 
of resolved outbreaking wickedness, and give a most suffi- 
cient reason why none such shall or can understand; and 
present, at the same time, a most awakening warning to all 
who, by neglect of religion, are in danger of coming to such 
a hopeless state of blindness and obstinate rejection of saving 
truth. 

Nothing is more common than for objections to be raised 
and entertained against religion in general, from some sup- 
posed difficulty in understanding it; and we sometimes hear 
this objection from persons who do not manifest that depraved 
and vicious disposition which, in the language of the world, 
is denominated wickedness. It is, nevertheless, very certain, 
my brethren and hearers, that much depends upon the in- 
ward temper of the heart for the attainment of religious 
knowledge, and still more for the profitable application of it. 
If, therefore, the heart be occupied exclusively with some- 
thing alien to God, this will constitute such a species of wick- 
edness as will prevent the understanding of divine things. 

Of this description are Worldly mindedness and eovetous- 
ness, with all similar descriptions of inordiuaie affection; and 
from persons of such characters it is that we most commonly 
hear this objection. But did they consider the subject with 
any seriousness, they must soon perceive that the difficulty 
is with themselves, and not in religion. 



52 WICKEDKES6 THE CAC6E OF BLINDNESS. 

The covetous man has set up an idol in his heart, which 
usurps the place due to Almighty God; and the worship paid 
to this false god absorbing all the faculties, the mind becomes 
blinded to the light of divine truth, and this inordinate affec- 
tion actually swallows up all others. Hence St. Paul calls 
covetousness idolatry, and points out its invariable effect in 
perverting the understanding on the vital subject of religion. 
"If our gospel be hid," says he, that is, be difficult to under- 
stand, "it is hid to them that are lost." A better rendering 
of the words would be, through the things which perish. "In 
whom"' — rather, by which — "the god of this world hath 
blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light 
of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the Image of God, 
should shine unto them." On this as well as on other ac- 
counts, he styles tin' love of money "the root of all evil." Our 
Lord also cautions Ins disciples against this vice — "Take 
heed," wye be, "and beware of covctousness." 

In like maimer, the effect is nearly the same through over- 
engagemciit with the lawful business of life. When the farms 
ami the merchandise of the world occupy the place which 
the honor of G©B and the care of our souls ought to possess, 
the life and power of religion is unknown — its forms and its 
decencies may be kept up, but we understand it not — the 
heart is gone after its c o^e t waaa ess, and no room is left for 
tin- Giver of every good and perfect gift. Hence our Sa- 
viour's strong admonitions against over-carefulness and anx- 
iety about worldly accommodations — "Take no thought for 
the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things 
of itself. Bat seek ye tir>t the kingdom of God and his right- 
feouaness, and all Vntm things shall be added unto you." 

Another branch of that wickedness which perverts the un- 
derstanding on the subject of religion, ami blinds the mind 
to tin- beauty of holiness, is found in that levity and thought- 
lessness of youth, which is yet free from the grossn ess of out- 
breaking profligacy and vice. Persons of this description 
are a most numerous body, my hearers, and the effect is evi- 
denced by the comparatively small number of youth who 
manifest any concern for their souls; which surely would not 
be the case, wore it not for the inevitable consequences of 
carelessness and unconcern on the subject of religion, to every 



WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 53 

period of accountable age. The honor of God and the care 
of the soul being the highest duties of rational beings, the 
neglect of them comes very properly under the general de- 
nomination of wickedness. Hence, such persons are described 
in Scripture as "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" 
■ — as "dead while they live" — as "idlers, wandering about 
from house to house," — and the effects are such as to "in- 
crease unto "more ungodliness." For as the mind is dissi- 
pated in the frivolous nothings of folly and fashion, it gradu- 
ally becomes more and more indisposed to, indeed incapable 
of, serious thought; and all that relates to religion grows 
more irksome and uninteresting, until it ceases to affect the 
mind at all. 

From these examples, though briefly detailed, we may 
learn, I think, the meaning of the text, in describing, as it 
does, the effect of every kind of wickedness, in blinding the 
mind and blunting the feelings to the great concerns of eter- 
nity; and be furnished with a most persuasive argument to 
escape from so imminent a danger, before sin hath bound us 
to our ruin with a chain which cannot be broken. For in 
addition to the natural effects of the love and practice of sin, 
God threatens to withdraw his Holy Spirit from "such as 
go on in their wickedness — to deliver them over to a repro- 
bate mind — to send them strong delusion, that they should 
believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed 
not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 

Whoever, therefore, feels disposed to escape from the du- 
ties of religion, and to take shelter under the objection that 
it is difficult to understand, let him thereby be warned that 
there is something greatly wrong within him — that he is de- 
luded by some deceit of sin, which, unless it be detected and 
put away, will blind him still more. And this is certainly 
the cause of all opposition and objection to the gospel. For 
no fair mind can possibly object to the philanthropy and 
morality of the gospel. No reasonable mind can reject the 
proofs by which it is confirmed as a divine revelation. ISTo 
teachable disposition will refuse to be made wise unto salva- 
tion; nor will any sane mind sport with the sanctions of God's 
righteous judgment. Tet with all this is the person charge- 
able who refuses himself to the gospel, either through the 



^ 



5i WICKEDNKgS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 

levity of youth, the engagements of the world, or the love of 
sin in its licentious and profligate indulgences. In all these 
cases, however great their variety, ''the wicked shall not un- 
derstand," both from the natural tendency of vice and the 
righteous appointment of God in withdrawing his Holy 

Sl'IKIT. 

II. Let us, in the next place, examine wherefore it is that 
a virtuous disposition disposes the Understanding to receive 
and the heart to embrace the gospel. "The wise shall under- 
stand." 

In the study of every human science there is some previous 
temper, some particular predisposition of mind, which gives 
greater aptness, a- well as inclination, for that particular 
science, and enables those tint- predisposed, to understand 
it more readily ami to acquire it with more ease, than those 
not thus inclined. The same holds proportionally true, like- 
wise, in the divine science of religion. A teachable dispo- 
sition, a well disposed temper, an equitable, fair, and chari- 
table -pirit. and a just sense of the necessity and reasonable- 
ness of obeying the commands of (ion, is the first principle 
and beginning of religion — the best preparative to open the 
under-tanding, to make men study divine truths with satis- 
faction —to comprehend them readily, and judge of them 
rightly. "The fear of the LoSDiS the beginning of wisdom," 
Bftye the P-almi-t: u a good understanding have all they that. 
do his commandments; his praise endnreth for over." And 
our Saviour compares a virtuous disposition to good ground 
— "Those on the good ground are they who, in an honest and 

g 1 heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth 

fruit with patience." Such person-, also, he elsewhere calls 
I ig sheep, and describes them a«. bearing his voice and fol- 
lowing him a>- their shepherd. 

But, further, a< the knowledge of any science is only pro- 
fitable according as it is reduced to practice, in like manner 
the practice of righteousness is the true and profitable im- 
provement of religions knowledge. As in human sciences 
the man who applies what he already knows is constantly 
adding to his knowledge and acquiring more extended and 
perfect views of that, science, so, likewise, in the science of 
religion, practice and experience in the course of a virtuous 



WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 55 

life and in the obedience of God's commandments, continu- 
ally extend and enlarge the understanding of and capacity 
for the things of God. "Pie that keepeth the law of the 
Lord, getteth the understanding thereof," says the wise son 
of Sirach. "Evil men understand not judgment; but they 
that seek the Lord understand all things," says Solomon. "I 
have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testi- 
monies are my meditation. I understand more than the an- 
cients, because I keep thy precepts," says David. "If ye 
continue in my word," says the Saviour, "ye shall know the 
truth, and the truth shall make you free." Thus, "the wise 
shall understand." For, in the religion of the gospel there 
is no man truly wise and knowing but he that lives like a 
Christian. 

But, further, in addition to the natural tendency of a vir- 
tuous disposition to lead men to the knowledge and love of 
divine things, God hath promised the assistance of his Holy 
Spirit to enlighten and direct all who sincerely desire to 
know and to do his will. "If any man will do his will, he 
shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. If ye love 
me keep my commandments; and I will pray the Father, and 
he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with 
you forever; even the Spirit of Truth. And when he, the 
Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." 
Hence St. John, exhorting Christians against the doctrine of 
those false teachers who had left the Church, tells them, "Ye 
have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 
I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, 
but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. But 
the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, 
and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same 
anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth and is no 
lie, and even as it hath taught you ye shall abide in him." 

Thus is the virtuous man secured against all fatal error 
and furnished for all saving truth, not only by the natural 
tendency of his pursuits, but by the special appointment of 
the only wise and just governor of the universe; while the 
wicked, in all their various shades, by the operation of the 
righteous and unchangeable constitution of moral causes, are 
precluded, by their own perverse abuse of common mercies, 



56 WICKEDNESS THB CACSE OF BLINDNESS. 

from the blessing annexed to them, both here and hereafter, 
"And none ox the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall 
understand." Of which words our Saviour himself has given 
the true and awakening exposition, in his application of the 
parable of the talents — "For unto him that hath shall be 
given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath 
not, shall be taken away even that which he hath." 

From what has been said the following inferences seem 
plain and obvious, my brethren: 

First, thf religion of the gospel is not the creature of im- 
pulse :ind feeling, arbitrarily imparted once for all, and to be 
found most readily where reason and understanding are the 
farthest removed from their just influence. Hut it is the 
happy and enduring fruit of knowledge diligently sought, 
wisely applied, faithfully improved, and virtuously practised. 
It is, therefore. ;i gradual attainment, and as such, requires 
and is provided with all those means which the goodness of 
( ioi> has prepared and appointed to that end. Now, these 
mean- consist of our own exertions and of his grace; to sepa- 
rate them is to deprive ourselves of both, lie that would 
ivaeli heaven in his own strength will never rise, even to the 
view of its blessed mansions of glory; while he that waits for 
divine grace) without putting forth the strength already given, 
and which is to be found in reading, meditation, prayer, and 
penitence, will wait in vain. Gob hath no need of the sinful 
man, therefore he must be sought unto by all such. They 
mast some to him for this blessing, without which we can do 
nothing, that i-, nothing that we can do is of any worth with- 
out it. Hence, we are instructed and exhorted "to work out 
our salvation with fear and trembling; — For it is God that 
worketh in as both to will and to do of his good pleasure." — 
w To add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, 
godliness, brotherly kindness, charity, with all diligence." — 
"Thus making our calling ami election sure." 

Secondly, as the continuing to neglect both our duty and 
<>ur interest, in securing the salvation of our souls, is showed 
by the text to be followed by increasing blindness and cor- 
ruption of mind, to the final destruction of all spiritual sense 
and feeling, it follows, as a most reasonable inference, that 
all delay to turn from such a ruinous course, is a further 



WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 57 

tempting of God, and an undeniable proof of that wickedness 
which "shall not understand." 

All warning, my dear hearers, is given for us to profit by, 
and our reason is to judge of the just application of that 
waruing. To your reason, then, I appeal, to the sober reason 
of all present, in whatever degree the text finds you, whether 
of the thoughtless, the over-engaged, or the actually vicious. 
Are the pursuits you are occupied with, such as God will ap- 
prove of and reward hereafter? If they are, if they are such 
as you can bring to the standard of his word, and find them 
there approved; yea, further, if they are such as your own 
experience shows to be profitable for the advancement of 
spiritual light in your minds and the increase of the power 
of God over your hearts and lives, then cleave to them, and 
engage yet more diligently in them; but if they are not, if 
your own reason and conscience, if the observation and ex- 
perience of all who are competent to judge, above all, if the 
word and wisdom of God testifies with these, that they are 
hourly sinking you deeper into darkness and delusion, hourly 
carrying you away further from God, from hope, and from 
happiness; what then — what says reason, what says conscience, 
what says religion, what say the united voices of the wise 
and the good in all ages? "Forsake the foolish and live; 
make no tarrying to turn to the Lord; we have sinned; we 
have done wickedly, and, therefore, the way of truth is hid 
from us." And what says the mercy of God to those who 
turn to him in righteousness? "When the wicked man turn- 
eth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and 
doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul 
alive." "God so loved the world that he gave his only be- 
gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not per- 
ish, but have everlasting life." And lest this should not be 
thought warning and encouragement sufficient, by the sin- 
darkened hearts of a crooked and perverse generation, what 
says this only begotten Son to all under the gospel? "Come 
unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest; — him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast 
out." And what says this merciful Saviour even to the 
blindness of sin and unbelief? "I am the light of the world; 
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall 
[Vol. 2,— *5.] 



5S 'WICKEDNESS THE CAUSE OF BLINDNESS. 



>j 



have the light of life; he that hath ears to hear let him hear; 
ami lie that hath a heart to perceive let him "understand; 
••and whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of 
lire fret'lv.'' 

"To-dav, then, if vc will hear his voice, harden not vour 
lirart>, hut turn unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon 
you, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." 



SERMON VI. 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 



Acts xvi. 30, latter clause. 
"What must I do to be saved?" 



". 



Some degree of concern, and even of anxiety, as to the 
failure or success of important interests, is inseparable, I be- 
lieve, my brethren, from our present condition. While hope 
and fear vibrate in uncertainty, the restlessness of insecurity 
must be felt, and will manifest a corresponding influence upon 
the thoughts and upon the conduct. That this concern and 
anxiety is more frequent as well as stronger in degree re- 
specting our temporal than our spiritual interests, is, unhap- 
pily, the experience of every Christian land. And while it 
is acknowledged to be altogether inconsistent with the rela- 
tive importance of the two interests, but feeble efforts are 
made to counteract it; and the consequence, certainly follows, 
that it increases in power, and ultimately excludes every 
spiritual desire and inclination. Now though this is known 
to be the effect, and notwithstanding the admonitions of 
Scripture are full and express against undue or misplaced 
anxiety as to worldly condition, "the things that are seen" 
prevail over "the things that are not seen," and, in a variety 
of ways, "blind the minds of them that believe not," to their 
everlasting ruin. Yet public opinion, as well as private in- 
clination, is disposed to treat this departure from God, or 
rather this refusal to come to God, leniently, and in the com- 
mon guilt to lose sight of the common danger; and because 
some respect can be and is shown to the outward observances 
of Christianity, and because less of open out-breaking wicked- 
ness is perpetrated by the careful and worldly-minded than 
by the careless and dissolute, therefore the delusion is cherish- 
ed that the high and holy hope of the gospel may, for such, 
be relied upon. 

There are, however, some minds so overrun with levity and 



60 THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

thoughtlessness, that they appear impenetrable to every thing 
like serious impression, or continued application. Trifles 
alone interest them and engage their activity. But of such, 
no man augurs well, nor is much disposition felt to admit the 
excuse which may be offered on the ground of natural dis- 
position; it is condemned as inconsistent with either feeling 
or reflection, and as precluding any reasonable hope of use- 
fulness or success in life. This judgment, I believe, is cor- 
rect in the general; for experience and observation concur in 
proving, that until this frivolous, inconsiderate state of mind 
is cured, the expectation of any thing profitable to themselves 
or useful to others is hardly to be entertained. 

Thus do we reason and decide, my brethren, and correctly 
too, as regards the interests of time. But wherefore is it, 
that we stop short of the extent to which this mode of reason- 
woiild carry us — that we are not instructed by the analogy 
which temporal things bear to those which are eternal, and 
are not moved thereby to feel the same anxiety, and put 
forth the same diligence, for the welfare of our souls, which 
we manifest for that of our bodies? Wherefore do the care- 
ful and the thoughtful, and the calculating men of business, 
condemn the equally busy, though careless and inconsiderate 
men of pleasure, as it is called? If their pursuits are alike 
bounded by the preterit life, wherein do they differ in event, 
as respects the great purpose of our being? This is the touch- 
stone of all worldly condition — the test of all present occu- 
pation to accountable beings — for. surely, when compared 
with eternity, the gravest as well as the gayest, the weightiest 
as well as the more trilling pursuits of the world, are alike 
frivolous and unw«>rthv the exclusive regard of an immortal 
soul. In the sight of (roo what matters it, my hearers, 
whether our hearts are set on business or on pleasure, during 
the four-score years of our limited pilgrimage? These equally 
usurp the place which he alone should fill, and they alike 
militate against the great and declared purpose of his wisdom 
and mercy in permitting the world to continue, and in grant- 
ing to its inhabitants opportunity and means to regain the 
bright inheritance which by sin was forfeited, and escape the 
condemnation which by sin was incurred. These are con- 
siderations which sweep into nothing the anxieties of the care- 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 61 

ful, and the frivolities of the thoughtless; which conclude, un- 
answerably, against all false estimates of mor.al condition, as 
grounds of hope towards God; and, if allowed to operate, 
force from the convicted conscience the alarmed exclamation 
of my text — "What must I do to be saved?" 

Happy, my brethren, yea, thrice happy for those who, 
either by some startling providence of God or by the equally 
efficacious and more ordinary method of his grace operating 
through the written word, are brought to this point, and 
awakened to their true condition before the dream of life is 
surprised by the realities of eternity. For if there be a life 
beyond this present mortal existence, if death do not put a 
final period to our being, if joy or sorrow, and for ever, too, 
await us beyond the grave, what equally important inquiry 
can occupy the attention of accountable beings with that of the 
condition into which we shall pass when we drop these mortal 
bodies and enter upon a new and never-ending existence? 

From this passage of Scripture, therefore, I will first lay 
before you some reflections calculated to explain and apply 
the text, and then give the answer to this anxious and most 
important inquiry — "What must I do to be saved?" 

I. These words, we know, my hearers, were uttered by the 
jailer of Philippi, on occasion of the midnight earthquake 
which attended the imprisonment of Paul and Silas, because 
of the religion which they preached. This was an event very 
alarming in itself, and, connected with the circumstances 
which preceded the arrest of the apostle and his companion, 
well calculated to produce that deep impression of guilty fear, 
which imminent danger awakens in the conscience of the 
sinner. The man, indeed, was a Heathen; but he was not, 
therefore, without those apprehensions of futurity which are 
inseparable from human nature. The doctrine of those ser- 
vants of Christ had been the subject of attention in the city, 
and was doubtless known to him. And the miraculous at- 
testation to its truth which the earthquake afforded, produced y 
at once, full conviction of his danger as a sinner ignorant of 
God and unprepared to meet his righteous judgment; but 
with hope of deliverance through those heralds of mercy, 
whose prayers and praises were thus visibly answered. 

Are we, therefore, to expect such extraordinary manifesta- 



62 THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

tions of divine power now, my brethren and hearers, in order 
to awaken men to their danger as sinners, and convert them 
to God? No, by no means. On the contrary, we know that 
miraculous interposition has long been withdrawn from the 
gospel, and that the pretence to it, in any shape, is a mark 
of Anti-Christ. We also know, that even in the age of mira- 
cles all conversions were not thus produced, and the proba- 
bility is, that such were few in proportion to the whole num- 
ber of converts to the faith. Of this we have a particular in- 
stance in this same city of Philippi, under the same ministers, 
in the conversion of Lydia, by the ordinary operation of the 
Holy Sj'Ikit, disposing the heart to believe and obey the 
truth 08 it is in Jksus. 

With the proof of divine origin for Christianity, confirmed 
by centuries of opposition and success, and with a recorded 
Scripture, established as the word of God by the highest at- 
testation, men are not now to wait or look for miraculous dis- 
plays of the Si'ikit, and those who do, will wait and look in 
vain for auirht but the deceits of an enthusiast's imagination. 
The providences of Gun are, indeed, so ordered as to work 
together with the warning and instruction of his holy word, to 
lead men to repentance, ap great is his mercy to us ward; but 
independent of this it is now made the duty of all men, every 
where, to believe the gospel, to acquaint themselves with the 
will of (tod, to repent and cease from sin, and to pray earn- 
estly for the Light and succor of his Holy Spirit, to make his 
word life and power to their souls. 

The effect of thus obeying the divine precepts is just as 
certain as the premise of God to bless the means of grace, 
faithfully 086(1, is sure and unbroken. And if men were only 
as desirous to be saved as (ion is that they should be con- 
verted in order thereto, the ordinary means of grace would 
be just as efficient without as with those extraordinary ope- 
rations, whieh, after all, derive their whole moral effect from 
the inlluence of the II<»ly Ghost. 

The words of the text also suggest to us the hopeless con- 
dition of mankind by nature. "What must I do to be saved?" 
Hence it appears, that in his actual condition the jailer was 
not saved, that he was made sensible of this, that he con- 
sidered it a state of great danger, and was prompted to seek 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

deliverance from it. Now it is very certain that the earth- 
quake could not, of itself, do this. But the discoveries of the 
gospel, as preached by St. Paul, applied to the conscience by 
the Spirit of God, were fully competent to show the true 
condition of man as a fallen creature, and of himself as one 
of that guilty race. Reflection and self-examination could 
not fail to strengthen this conviction of divine truth, which 
the earthquake confirmed, by showing him the imminence 
of his danger, and, by bringing his fears to a point, made him 
a sincere supplicant for the light of life. The words of the text, 
then, are not altogether the consequence of fear'and alarm, but 
the result of reflection on previous information, quickened into 
effect by a visible display of the power of God; nor yet are 
they to be confined to this or to any other extraordinary in- 
stance of conversion to God, but, either in themselves or in 
the sentiment which they so strongly express, ought to be the 
heartfelt language of every child of Adam to whom the word 
of this salvation is sent. 

The leading discoveries of the gospel are, the fall of man 
by the commission of sin, the corruption of his nature, his 
consequent separation from God and condemnation to death 
temporal and eternal; and the recovery of this fallen creature 
by the undertaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, his consequent 
reprieve from the execution of the sentence, with the pro- 
vision of adequate means for his renewal and sanctification 
by the gift of the Holy Ghost. These are the great and mo- 
mentous truths which are "commanded to be preached 
among all nations for the obedience of faith," which every 
man must believe and apply to himself, and from which it 
follows, that the inquiry of my text must, at some period, be 
the personal inquiry of all who shall ever come to God on 
the terms of the gospel. As fallen creatures we come into 
life, my dear hearers; as fallen creatures we shall pass out of 
this present short and uncertain existence into endless sepa- 
ration from God, unless these discoveries of divine mercy 
are so realized as to convince us of the one truth, in such 
wise as to bring us to desire the other with all the intensity 
of a heart that feels its own ruin and hopelessness without 
help from God. 

Now, who is here present to whom these discoveries are 



64 THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

not made? who among yon is ignorant of these awful truths, 
and incapable of drawing the just conclusions from them? 
and which of you knows not, that death and judgment, that 
heaven and hell, await the use made of them by accountable 
beings? And yet how few, comparatively, have ever seriously 
put to themselves the question of my text, have ever followed 
out the occasional misgivings of their own hearts, the alarms 
of sickne-^ and danger, and the warnings of the word of God, 
so as to meet fairly, and faithfully to consider, the state of 
their souls as saved or lost? Under such circumstances, my 
friends, '*why*stand ye here all the day idle?" Do you wait 
for some convulsion of nature, some sign from heaven, to 
startle you into salvation? Is not the veracity of Gon suffi- 
cient tbr your faith to build the commanded duties of religion 
upon? sutlicient for you to choose "that good part" which, 
even reason teaches, may be gain and cannot be loss? Is 
God's command to ''repent and believe the gospel" of no 
force without a sign from heaven? O deceive not vour own 
souls and cloak not vour love of sin bv pretending an insnf- 
ficient revelation. Know ye not, that they who continued to 
ivpiire more >i-n>, in the midst of signs and wonders, were 
left to the hardness of their own deceitful hearts? "A wicked 
and adulterous generation asketh after a sign, but there shall 
no sign be given unto it but the sign of the prophet Jonas." 
And have you not that sign in the death and resurrection of 
Jkms Ciiuiyr, by virtue of which onlv, the gospel with all its 
Uettinga ha- come unto you? beware, lest that come upon 
you which is written — ''Behold ye despisers, and wonder and 
perish, tor I work a work in your days, a work which ye 
shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." 
A work, indeed, shall be wrought in confirmation of the 
gospel, which you shall see, but it will then be too late to 
proiit by it. An earthquake you shall have, in the convul- 
sions of an expiring world, when the earth and the sea shall 
give np their dead; a sign from heaven, also, you shall have > 
in the Son of man coming in the clouds, with power and 
great glory. How will you then feel, how will you then look 
back upon the precious opportunities now slighted, and curse 
the wilful unbelief which has betrayed you to perdition. O 
let the overwhelming thought now fix the commanding truth 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 65 

upon your conscience, and occupy your meditations until it 
draws from your heart the solemn inquiry, "what must I do 
to be saved?" 

For the text, furthermore, suggests the reflection, that there 
is something to be done on our part, in order to our being 
saved. 

The jailer was conscious that as he was, he was not saved 
— was not in a state of favor with God — and this very con- 
sciousness, as it was the ground of his alarm and inquiry, so 
was it the entrance to his salvation. Ought not, then, the 
same consciousness to produce the same effect now, and bring 
every person who lias not a well-grounded Scriptural hope of 
God's favor through the Lord Jesus Christ, so to doubt the 
safety of his condition, as to inquire scrupulously into it, 
holding himself in readiness to forego whatever is in oppo- 
sition to the gospel, and to embrace whatever it requires? 
This appears to have been the temper of the jailer, and, 
surely, it ought to be the disposition of all who, like him, 
have reason to fear their condition for hereafter to be either 
dangerous or doubtful. Religion, my dear hearers, the reli- 
gion of Jesus Christ, is not an abstract speculation of the in- 
tellectual faculty, but a system of practical truth for personal 
observance and improvement? "What must I do to be 
saved?" What is my particular duty? What am I to learn, 
and believe, and do, in order to escape everlasting destruc- 
tion and obtain eternal life? But this is the commencement 
only — the first fruits of a truly awakened sinner, of a sincere 
seeker after God, which must be followed up by doing what- 
soever is commanded in the gospel. How thoroughly at va- 
riance, then, with this active engagement on so high an in- 
terest, is the loose indifference of these latter days to the dis- 
coveries of the gospel, to the high and holy hope which it 
gives to man? What thousands and tens of thousands are 
flattering themselves with the benefit of this hope, who have 
never resorted to those appointed means of grace by which 
it is certified and maintained, and have yet to ask themselves 
the vital question — "What must I do to be saved?" What 
numbers among ourselves leave this great interest uncared 
for, while they give themselves without reserve to the world, 
in its business or in its pleasures. How shall I get rich? 



60 THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

How shall I secure my temporal interests? How shall I 
compass the pleasures of the world? What shall I eat? what 
shall I drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed? are allowed 
to swallow up the anxieties and pervert the exertions which 
eternity calls for, and without which it must be miserable 
and undone. 

And wherefore is it thus? — wherefore is it, that beings who 
can reason, and calculate, and discern, and exert themselves 
ft>r a present interest, Mill not apply the same faculties to 
that which is future, and on surer grounds of success combine 
them all into one continued effort in working out their ever- 
lasting salvation? Alas! it is for the very reason which 
should constrain them to do otherwise. It is because they 
are fallen creatures, with corrupt hearts, blinded minds, and 
perverted desires. It is because they will not receive the 
truth, even from God. Because they will not come to the 
light which his holy word sheds over their condition, and 
consider and apply- its gracious and glorious discoveries to 
themselves. It is because they will not pray for the help 
and succor of the IIoi.v Spibjt to lead them to the truth, and 
make it effectual to the renewal of their hearts. And, above 
all. it is because they do not cease from sin, but resist the 
£odly motions and admonitions of the Holy Ghost in their 
oonsciences, doing despite to the Spi&it of grace, and not be- 
cause they cannot do otherwise, or are not aware that they 
ought to act otherwise. "This is the condemnation, that light 
has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than 
light, because their deeds were evil." No one, under the 
light of the gospel, can plead ignorance of the will of God. 
Mo one, under the grace of the gospel, can plead inability to 
do the will of God. His wisdom hath left us all without ex- 
CUSe, my friends, and his command hath made it the first, 
the highest, the most immediate duty of every soul who hears 
its joyful sound, to inquire, as for life — "What must I do to 
be saved?." Goo grant it may be so impressed upon your 
hearts this day, that we may hear the welcome question from 
all who have hitherto been negligent of their souls. 

II. I come now, as was proposed, to give the answer to the 
inquiry made in my text. 

That it is in our power to answer it, ought to be a subject 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 6T 

of the deepest thankfulness, my brethren and hearers; and it 
may serve, perhaps, to awaken a higher sense of what we 
owe to God for this distinction, to reflect what our condition 
would be were we deprived of it. "What a dark and dismal 
gloom would settle over our prospects for hereafter, and how 
heavily the soul would drag through a weary existence to 
the painful uncertainty of an unknown eternity. It may 
serve, also, to startle those into reflection, who, having such 
great things provided for them by the love of Christ, yet 
neither ask the question nor seek for the answer. God grant 
that they may now give heed to it. 

The direct answer is given in very few words in Scripture, 
and both by our Lord himself and by St. Paul, in the same 
terms. To the question from the Jews — "What shall we do, 
that we might work the work of God?" Our Lord replied, 
"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he 
hath sent." . And to the question from the jailer of Philippi, 
"What must I do to be saved?" St. Paul replied, "Believe 
in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But 
however briefly expressed, the answer comprises the whole 
body of Christian doctrine and practice, and must be under- 
stood by us as if he had said, You must believe that Jesus 
Christ is the Son of God, the only Saviour of sinners; you 
must receive his doctrine, obey the laws of his kingdom, and 
. follow the bright example of his holy life, if you would be 
saved. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then, to the 
attainment of eternal salvation, will include faith, obedience, 
and perseverence. 

First, of faith. — This, as the root of all religious attainment 
and the entrance to the privileges of the gospel, is indispen- 
sable; for, as "he that cometh to God must believe that he 
is," so he that cometh to God through his only begotten Son, 
must believe that Jesus Christ is, both in nature and office, 
what the Scriptures represent him to be. This is expressed 
in Scripture by receiving the testimony which God hath giv- 
<en of his Son — the Scriptures being the record of that testi- 
mony, inspired and verified by the Holt Ghost. This faith 
includes his divine nature as the Son of God. That he who 
took our nature upon him, in order to accomplish the work 
of our redemption, was God as well as man — one with the 



68 THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

Father — of the same eternity, power, and glory — God over 
all, blessed for ever. This is fundamental, my brethren, and 
lies at the very threshold of the gospel; because on this de- 
pends the whole virtue and efficacy of his death as an atone- 
ment for sin, of his merits as the ground of man's acceptance 
with Goo, and of his mediatorial office between God and man. 
This was the faith of Peter, not revealed to him by flesh and 
blood — the faith on which, as on a rock, the church is built 
— this was the faith professed by tire Ethiopian eunuch, when 
baptized by Philip — this is the faith once delivered to the 
saints — this is the faith into which we are baptized, my breth- 
ren, and which we must keep, if we would be saved. Nor 
is there an instance, in Scripture or in the primitive Church, 
of any person being admitted to the Christian name and pri- 
vileges, but mi the profession of this faith. 

I: ilieving in the LofcD Jffcsus Christ includes, also, the be- 
lief..!' the doctrines he taught, by himself ami by his apos- 
tle-, a- contained in the Scriptures. These are to us what the 
preaching of the inspired men was to the first Christians, and 
contain all things necessary to be believed and practised in 
order t.» our being saved. As a leading doctrine — a primary 
truth, without which the whole Scripture is an unintelligible 
fable — that of the fallen, lost, ruined, and utterly helpless 
condition of mankind, by reason of sin, must be received and 
firmly believed by all who would be saved. This is the doc- - 
trine which gives consistency to the plan of our redemption 
by the Son <,f God — which confirms the harmonious connex- 
ion of all the other doctrines of his religion, and which alone 
makes Jesu9 Christ precious to the believer. Nothing, my 
dear hearers, but the full, the realized conviction of this fun- 
damental truth, can bring men to inquire, in earnest, what 
they in u -r do to l.e Saved. No other view of human nature 
can cast down the pride which exalts itself against God and 
the word of hi- grace, and bring men to desire and to pray 
for the Ib.i.v Spirit, as the author and source of all holy de- 
sires, sill good counsels, and all just works in the renewed 
creatine. But it is the very doctrine which the natural man 
most abhors, and exerts all his ingenuity to escape from; arid 
therefore it is, that it is laid at the commencement of reli- 
gious attainment, and that no man under the light of the gos- 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 69 

pel can be saved, until truly convinced, by the word and 
Spirit of God, that in himself he is lost and undone — that in 
the Lord Jesus only has he righteousness and strength; and 
is thereby brought to repentance towards God and faith in 
the Lord Jesus Christ, for pardon and acceptance, for the 
renewal of the Holt Ghost, and for eternal life. 

This is the doctrine, my brethren, and the only doctrine, 
which realizes the truth of Scripture, which makes religion 
a reasonable service, and presents to every man under the 
gospel the means of determining in regard to his personal 
condition, whether he hath indeed come to the light or is yet 
walking in darkness. For certain it is, that no man ever 
sought and obtained the favor of God and eternal life, who 
had not first been savingly convinced that he was, by nature 
and practice, the enemy of God, the slave of sin, and the heir 
of eternal death. 

Second])', believing in the Lord Jesus Christ includes 
obedience to his commandments. 

Faith and obedience are inseparable, my brethren, in any 
just estimate of spiritual condition. He who disregards a 
command which he professes to believe is enjoined by Al- 
mighty God, must be presumed to labor under some strange 
delusion as to the nature of faith, or knowingly to act in de- 
fiance of his Maker. Otherwise, his disobedience would con- 
vince him of unbelief, or true belief would cure his dis- 
obedience. While, therefore, any person continues in open 
disobedience to any of the commands of Christ, knowing that 
they are so commanded — which i6 the case with all under the 
gospel who are not wilfully ignorant — such a person can have 
no good ground to hope that he so believes in the Lord Jesus 
Christ that he shall be saved. 

Among the commands of Christ, left with his disciples, one 
is, that they should openly profess his name and religion be- 
fore the world, as his peculiar people. Now this all true be- 
lievers do. But there are thousands upon thousands, in 
every Christian land, who have never done this beyond that 
of their baptism in infancy — all the benefit of which, repent- 
ance excepted, they have forfeited, again and again, by 
personal sin. Yet these persons profess to believe in Christ, 
and entertain some expectation of being saved through his 



TO THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO 6T. PAUL. 

merits. But must not this be a -wilful delusion, seeing their 
belief is not sufficient to lead them to obey this first and 
easiest command of their Lord and Saviour? 

Another command of Christ is, that men should repent of 
their past sins, and cease from sin in future, if they would be 
saved by him. And this every true believer in the Lord Jesus 
Christ certainly does. Yet there are multitudes of men and 
women living in the practice of known sin, in various ways 
and decrees, who yet profess to believe in Christ, and to 
hope for forgiveness and salvation through him, though this 
belief has never dimmed their e}*e with the tear of penitence, 
nor withheld their heart from the sinful pleasures of the 
world, or from indulgence in its vain pursuits. But is not 
this a still stronger delusion of the devil? an actual making 
of Christ the minister of sin, and a defeating of the very 
purpose of his coming, which was "to save his people from 
their sins?" Ilow, then, shall those be saved from wrath, 
through him, who will not repent and cease from sin at his 
command? 

A third command of the Lord Jesus Christ is, that his 
disci | »les should, on suitable occasions, commemorate his 
death by partaking together of the holy sacrament which he 
instituted as a perpetual memorial of his love in thus dying 
for them. This all true believers not only do, but consider 
it the highest privilege to be permitted thus to testify their 
sense of the unspeakable benefits by his precious blood-shed- 
ding procured for them; yet the countless majority of Chris- 
tian lands professing to hope in Christ, are utterly regardless 
of this command of their dying benefactor, and flee away as 
rapidly from the symbols of his broken body and shed blood 
as if injury and not blessing lay hid in their mysterious pro- 
perties. How, then, shall such persons be saved by faith in 
Christ, if they continue to disregard the plain commands of 
Christ? my dear friends, awake, I beseech you, from this 
delusion of a barren and speculative faith, from the presump- 
tion of a disobedient hope, and from the misery of a delayed, 
perhaps an unavailing repentance, and learn, that if 3-ou 
would be saved you must so believe in the Lord Jesus 
Christ, as to obey his commandments. No other proof can 
you give, or will he receive, that you do believe in him. 



THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 71 

I have given instances in three of his commands only, and 
these the plainest and most openly distinctive of believers. 
But they are the three most openly disregarded, and upon 
pretences which aggravate rather than extenuate the offence. 
Remember, I beseech you, that himself warns us, that in the 
great day of eternity many will claim an interest in Christ 
which he will not acknowledge, and that it is not crying 
Lord, Lord, but the doing the will of God as revealed in his 
word, that will entitle to an entrance into the kingdom of 
heaven. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that 
they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in 
through the gates into the city." 

Thirdly, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ includes per- 
severence in faith and holiness. 

Religion, being the improvement of our moral nature, must 
be progressive in its attainments. The heart may be changed 
in a moment, but the life must be amended by degrees. The 
principle on which the whole depends, may be the fruit of a 
short exercise of the faculties of the soul, but the trial and 
development of that principle is the business of the subsequent 
life; and to this, perseverence, that is, continuance in a course 
begun, is just as essential as faith and obedience. For as all 
the faculties are strengthened by use and exercise, in like 
manner our spiritual graces are enlarged and confirmed by 
patient continuance in well doing, until habitual reverence 
of God, constant regard to his favor, and steadfast preference 
of his will, become the established temper of the soul. The 
trial of the present life, my Christian brethren, is, to deter- 
mine our fitness for eternal glory; and, as this can be wrought 
out only by a total change of the desires and affections of the 
soul, and can be manifested only by fruits of righteousness 
towards men and of piety towards God, in the conduct of the 
life — perseverence in obedience to the law of Christ is the 
crown of religion. To this duty, and it is spoken of in Scrip- 
ture only as a duty, we are exhorted and encouraged by every 
consideration that can add force to the highest and most glo- 
rious interest that a fallen creature can contem late. ''Behold 
I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man 
take thy crown." "But take heed to yourselves, lest at any 
time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunk- 



72 THE JAILER'S QUESTION TO ST. PAUL. 

enness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you 
una^res." "For we are made partakers of Cueist if we 
hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the 
end." That we may fall away, therefore, is very possible, 
and nothing but watchfulness and diligence can keep "our 
loins girt and our lights burning." But the promises of God 
are more than equal to this danger. To those promises, then, 
let us look, my brethren, as the anchor of the soul. In the 
hour of temptation let us hear our heavenly leader's voice, 
encouraging us to "fight the good fight of faith," with the 
cheering declaration — "my grace is sufficient for thee." "He 
that endureth to the end the same shall be saved." "That 
which ye have already, hold fast till I come; and he that 
overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will 
I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a 
rod of iron." 

God grant, my brethren, that the blessed expectation may 
fire our hearts with renewed zeal to win the crown of eternal 
life — and that the power of his Holy Spirit may stir up the 
hearts of all present so to consider what has been said, as 
forthwith to come to Cheist, and learn of him what they 
must do to be saved. 






Sermon yii. 



CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 



John Hi. 16. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who- 
soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

In this epitome or abridged declaration- of the gospel, my 
brethren, we have our thoughts and meditations directed to 
the only foundation of Christian faith and hope, in that love 
of God which prompted him to provide and bring to pass the 
redemption and salvation of a sin-ruined world. "Whether 
in any, and in how many other ways, this might have been 
effected by infinite wisdom, omnipotent power, and bound- 
less love, must ever be a vain and useless speculation. Suf- 
ficient, it would appear, yea, and more than sufficient, in re- 
spect to any claim we could possibly have, is it, that we have 
been in any way cared for; and the gratitude due for such 
undeserved favor should chase away every overweening con- 
ceit of the wisdom of the world, every high thought which 
exalts itself against God and the word of his grace. 

Yet, if we are called on to convince gainsayers, or rather, 
to give a right direction to the views and inquiries of those 
who do err, because they know not the Scriptures and the 
power of God — (for ignorance is the parent of infidelity) — 
we are not unprovided with facts and arguments to demon- 
strate the perfect agreement of the means with the end, to 
show the connexion of the purpose and the plan of our sal- 
vation, by the incarnation of the Son of God, and the harmo- 
nious union of the high attributes of heaven's justice and 
dignity with the manifestation of mercy to man, by the sa- 
crifice of the cross. These, though high, holy, and mysteri- 
ous things, are yet the very life-blood of the religion we pro- 
fess, and the constant theme of Christian gratitude, admira- 
tion and praise. Brought down, also, as they are, to the 
comprehension of our limited and clouded faculties, and 
[Vol. 2,— *6.] 



74 CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 

bearing upon our present and eternal welfare, there can be 
no excuse for tlie neglect of them, or of .Jhat improvement of 
love and mercy thus manifested, which only can deliver us 
who are favored with the gospel, from the double condem- 
nation of sin and rebellion persisted in against light and 
knowledge, and salvation by the blood of Christ rejected and 
trampled under foot. Oh! what a fearful thought it is, to 
reflect on the thousands around whom the light of divine 
truth and saving mercy shines with the bright effulgence of 
gospel day, who are yet as unconcerned for the consequences 
as if this life were all they had to provide for; as careless of 
the judgment which must pass upon them for these mighty 
benefits, as if there were neither a heaven or a hell to receive 
them; and as negligent of the appointed means to reap the 
fruit of redeeming love, as if God had no claims upon them 
as his creatures, and faith and holiness no reward, and sin 
and unbelief no punishment, provided under his righteous 
government. 

My hearers, you cannot escape from the claim which the 
gospel has upon you. Do what you will, or think as you 
will, the word spoken unto you must judge you at the last 
day. Let me, then, prevail with you for attention to the 
doctrine contained in my text, and for its application to your 
present condition, that light may enter your minds, and truth 
prevail against the cruel delusion of meeting death and eter- 
nity unprepared for either — that truth which sets forth the 
great and glorious God who has no need of the sinful man, 
yet interposing the might of his transcendent attributes to 
redeem his soul, and, at the unspeakable price of his only 
begotten Son, surrendered to humiliation, sufferings, and 
death, to buy him back from sin and death to holiness and 
life eternal — that truth which proclaims in my text, the 
antecedent, unbought love of God the Father Almighty, to 
a rebellious world, which is proclaimed in the gospel and 
commanded to be preached to all nations for the obedience 
of faith — that truth which calls particularly for our attention 
at this time, when the stated services of the Church fix our 
meditations on the advent of our Lord, to fulfil the high and 
holy purposes of that eternal counsel which he purposed in 
Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, and which 






GHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 75 

is, indeed, the only predestination known to the Scriptures 
that we can apply to any profitable or comfortable purpose. 

In discoursing on this passage of Scripture, therefore, I 
shall, in the 

Fiest place, point out the connexion of the text with the 
context. 

Secondly, I shall endeavor to explain what is so clearly 
implied in the text, that but for the coining of Christ man 
must have perished. 

Thirdly, I shall point out the nature of the salvation thus 
wrought out for us; and, then, 

Conclude with an application of the whole. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begot- 
ten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life." 

I. First, I am to point out the connexion of the text with 
the context. 

That this particular passage is a part of our Lord's con- 
versation with Nicodemus, is known to all who are acquaint* 
ed with their Bibles, as it also is known that he therein briefly 
set forth the whole gospel, with the reason of that particular 
method in which only the salvation of sinners could be ac- 
complished, consistently with the divine perfections. 

God's purpose being, not merely to vindicate his justice by 
the infliction of the threatened penalty for disobedience, but 
the farther and more gracious purpose of reclaiming the of- 
fender, and restoring him to the favor he had forfeited — > 
therefore, the execution of the sentence could not be on the 
sinner himself, because this would have involved his imme- 
diate death and consequent condemnation. Hence the ne- 
cessity of a substitute of the same nature, and hence the ne- 
cessity of the incarnation of the Son of God, when appointed 
and accepted by the Father, to fulfil this mighty and gracious 
purpose. The conversation with JSTicodemus, therefore, is so 
directed as to embrace both these particulars— the satisfac- 
tion to be made for sin, and the means thereupon and there- 
by provided for the renewal of the sinner. 

Keeping this in view, what is needful for our present pur- 
pose is plain. Our Saviour informs Nicodemus of God's pro- 
posed mercy, and of the means by which it was procured; 



76 CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 

and declares the necessity which man, as a fallen sinner, was 
under, of a new and spiritual birth, to render him capable of 
the advantages proposed to him, and of the appointed and 
only sacrifice for sin, of which all others were typical. He 
informs him, that they had a figure and a representation in. 
the Old Testament Church, which, in connexion with the 
prophecies respecting the Messiah, might have instructed 
them that the fulness of time, or the predicted time, was 
come, when all should be fulfilled. "For as Moses lifted up 
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man 
be lifted up." That as, in the one case, those who were bit- 
ten of actual venomous serpents, were cured by beholding 
the brazen serpent — so, in the other case, the soul bitten and 
poisoned by the venom of sin, might be healed by beholding 
the Lamb of God lifted up on the cross, to take away the 
sins of the whole world. 

Of the necessity of that renewal which a spiritually dead 
creature must obtain; to render him capable of spiritual 
tilings, expressed under the figure of a new birth, or birth 
from above, he chides Xicodemus for being- ignorant — "Art 
thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" — 
Seeing that both the institution of sacrifice, which is an ac- 
knowledgment of guilt and forfeited life on the part of the 
offerer, and the very reason of the thing, require such a 
change to pass upon us. "That which is born of the flesh is 
flesh." — By your natural birth you have no title to a heaven- 
ly inheritance, nor any qualification for it. The one can only 
be obtained by faith in me — the other, by repentance towards 
God, wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, and bringing 
forth fruit unto holiness of life. And this birth from above y 
this renewal of the Spirit, is only to be obtained by believing 
in my Person — embracing my doctrine — entering my Church 
by baptism, and continuing therein as my discijne. "Except 
a man be born of water and of the Spieit, he cannot enter 
into the kingdom of God" — either that kingdom which I am 
come to set up and establish in the world, or that higher, 
but, at present, invisible kingdom, to which the profession 
of my religion is a preparatory and indispensable step. "For 
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have 



CHBIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 77 

everlasting life." Therefore, I am come into the world to 
gather into one the children of God scattered abroad, — to 
fulfil the law and the prophets — to declare the way of God 
more perfectly, and by tasting death for every man to open 
a new and living way, through faith and holiness, to eternal 
life. Tims is light come into the world — that light which is 
the life of men; and this light is witnessed both by the law 
.and the prophets, and confirmed by my doctrine and mira- 
cles. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn 
the world, but that the world through him might be saved. 
lie that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that be- 
lieveth not is condemned already. And this is the condem- 
nation, that light is come into the world, but men loved 
darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." 

Thus do we perceive, ray hearers, the connexion of the 
particular passage before us, not only with this conversation, 
l>ut with the whole gospel. It is, in fact, the germ of the 
.gospel, and contains in itself, as in a seed, both the root and 
the branches of that glorious dispensation of grace under 
whose saving influence it is our unspeakable privilege to be 
placed. God hath given his only begotten Son, and that 
w r ell beloved Son hath come, and shed the light of life over 
a benighted and sin-enslaved world. And yet what numbers 
refuse to come to this light; and for the old reason, because 
their deeds are evil. What multitudes cling to the world as 
their hope, though they know it is with themselves hasting 
to vanish away! And what still greater numbers care for 
none of these things, but flutter down the stream of time, 
amused with the bubbles whieh . burst on its surface' — occu- 
pied with the vanities which perish as they are gained — or 
•engaged in plans and expectations which promote the advan- 
tage of one, with the injury, perhaps the misery, of numbers. 
Yet these all have souls, immortal souls, too, and for which 
Cueist hath paid his blood. These must all be judged by 
the word spoken unto them, and suffer the eternal forfeit of 
God's love derided, his mercy despised, his revealed wrath 
dared, unless they come to repentance, and flee to that cross 
which is at one and the same time the release and the con- 
demnation of sin and sinners. To this they are invited by 
the love of God 5 and commanded by his authority — to this 



78 CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 

they are drawn by every motive which is known to have 
force with reasonable creatures, and, beyond all, by the tre- 
mendous truth contained in my text and enforced throughout 
the gospel, that without an interest in Christ they must per- 
ish for ever; which brings me to the 

II. Second point proposed, which was, to explain what is 
so clearly implied in the text, that but for the coming of 
Christ man must have perished. 

It is but to consider the nature of sin and its effect on the 
sinner, my brethren, to comprehend the value and efficacy 
of this unspeakable gift to a world of sinners. Sin is any 
want of conformity to the pure and holy nature of God. Of 
course there can be no fellowship or agreement between the 
sinner and God. Is or on the part of the sinner is it wished 
— the holiness of God being that attribute in Deity which 
the habitual sinner is most at war with. But more particu- 
larly, sin is the wilful transgression of any express command 
of God. Now this cannot take place, without setting at 
nought both the authority and the goodness of God. So that 
sin, in its nature, comprehends rebellion, contempt, and in- 
gratitude. These enter into the very elements of sin; and 
where they exist, as they do in every sinner, though he may 
not be conscious of them without reflection, it is plainly im- 
possible that any union should continue between the parties. 

The effect or consequence of sin is two-fold — as respects. 
God and as it respects ourselves. 

As respects God. Seeing he is of purer eyes than to be- 
hold iniquity, and cannot louk upon sin with the least degree 
of allowance, it must at once cut off the sinner from what- 
ever state of favor he was previously in. And as it is more- 
over direct rebellion against his sovereign authority, as su- 
preme lawgiver, it calls loudly for the vindication of that 
authority, by the infliction of the punishment due to and 
denounced against it. 

Hence, as respects God, the inevitable consequence of sin 
is, renunciation, wrath, and punishment. 

As respects ourselves, the effect or consequence of sin is,, 
separation or excision from God; and this virtually, by rais- 
ing the standard of rebellion in our hearts, against his au- 
thority and government — and actually, by siding with his 



CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 79 

enemy. And were there nothing more, no farther conse- 
quences to be apprehended, this in itself would be destruc- 
tion: for to be cut off from the only source of all comfort, 
hope, and blessing, without a possibility of return, is, in fact, 
to an immortal creature, to perish forever. 

But this separation or excision from God because of sin, 
involves further the loss of his Holy Spirit, which is the 
principle of life — spiritual life in the soul; the depravation 
of all the faculties of the mind, and the decay and death of 
the body. Hence, natural evil is the consequence of sin, and 
had no place in the creation of God until sin, entertained in 
the will and perfected in the act by the first man, opened a 
door for all its plagues to enter in and overwhelm us. 

Now if the nature and effect of sin be as I have very briefly 
stated it, my hearers, and my warrant is the word of God, 
what must become either of an individual or of a world in 
such a situation? Is it competent to the rebel lying at mercy 
to settle the conditions on which he is to be forgiven? Is it 
competent to the offender to say what satisfaction shall be 
sufficient to compensate for his offence? Or is this the pre- 
rogative of the party rebelled against and offended? Let 
common sense and common usage teach us wisdom in this 
infinite interest. But suppose the punishment and penalty 
could be, by us, either borne or escaped from, or satisfied in 
any way, what becomes of the distance it hath put between 
God and our souls? How is that barrier to be removed? Can 
a human hand wrest the flaming sword that guards the tree 
of life from the hand of the cherubim, and regain the Para- 
dise from which sin hath driven him out? But let us admit 
even this monstrous proposition. Would Paradise or Hea- 
ven be such to the sinner? And is the creature, the work of 
another hand, able to re-create himself? Can he who hath 
lost the image of God restore it to himself? Will the Holy 
Spirit return at his bidding;, and renew him in the spirit of 
his mind, and restore what sin hath decayed? Alas! here is 
an impregnable barrier which we cannot force, and without 
which God is but lost to us for ever. Every way, therefore, 
we are undone in ourselves. Hope is cut off, and heaven 
barred against us. And thus we see how man could not but 
have perished for ever, had Jesus Christ never been given. 



80 CHEIST GIVEN TO SATE. 

He only could make the required satisfaction for the sins of 
the whole world. He only, was worthy to be heard in our 
behalf. JSTone other than a divine person could make that 
atonement which balanced and overweighed the infinite de- 
merit of sin. And none other than the only wise God could 
so have met our want with the riches of his grace, as is dis- 
played in the gospel; where "mercy and truth are met toge- 
ther, righteousness and peace have kissed each other"' — where 
sin is pardoned and justice satisfied — the sinner reclaimed 
and holiness established — death conquered and immortality 
brought to light — God sdorified and the sinner saved — hell 
overcome and heaven replenished by the cross of Christ. 
"Well did St. Paul say, "God forbid that I should glory, save 
in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ." And O that the 
millions to whom this saving doctrine is plainly set forth by 
the preaching of the word, would but consider the bearing 
it has upon their eternal interests; that they would so medi- 
tate upon the gracious and merciful purpose which clothed 
him in our nature and stretched him upon the cross, as to 
prepare for his second advent in glory, to judge the world, 
to triumph over his enemies, and reward his servants. O 
come that blessed day when trial will be over, suffering at 
an end, and Christ be glorified in all his saints — when the 
Church triumphant shall celebrate the praises of her God 
and Saviour, in hosannas lasting as eternity! 

hint to attain this joyful and glorious hope, my brethren, 
the gracious purpose wherewith God was pleased to give his 
only begotten Son must be answered; which brings me to the 

HI. Third head I proposed to speak of, which was to point 
out the nature of the salvation thus wrought out for us. To 
understand this aright and to apply it profitably, we must 
consider the nature and extent of our undoing. 

As this undoing extended both to body and soul, the salva- 
tion wrought out for us by Christ reaches to the same extent. 

The salvation of the body is accomplished in its resurrec- 
tion from the dead, whereof we have the assurance in the re- 
surrection of Christ's body, which was of the same mortal 
and corruptible nature as that in which Ave aro found. "As 
in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." "And 
to this end Christ both died and rose again, and revived, 



CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 81 

that he might be Loud both of the dead and living." As the 
entertainment of sin established the empire of death over 
man fallen, so the conquest of sin, and of him who had the 
power of death, by our representative, restores that immor- 
tality to the body for which it was originally created. This 
peculiar and distinguishing doctrine of Christianity was one 
of the fruits of Christ's undertaking for us; and while it is 
full -of hope and comfort to those who embrace and obey 
the gospel, increases the horror and despair of those who re- 
ject it. Because it is for the purpose of judgment that the 
dead shall be raised, that soul and body, once more united, 
and for evermore incapable of decay or dissolution, may suf- 
fer or enjoy, according to the deeds done in the body, to all 
eternity. Oh! what a price will those who now sacrifice to 
the flesh then pay, for the short lived, unsatisfying enjoy- 
ments of sense; and what a rich reward will those who now 
crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts of a fallen 
nature, then reap. O that we could realize this awful truth 
as we ought, and see the intemperance and thoughtlessness 
of both old and young falling before it. But alas! while this 
is unheeded, iniquity will abound. 

The salvation of the soul is accomplished by restoring it to 
the image from which it is fallen. As sin committed proved 
the death of the soul, the destruction of its faculties of know- 
ing, loving, and pleasing God, so by the destruction of sin is 
the soul restored to its original health, and rendered capable 
of all that the gospel requires. Now, it is only by the Spirit 
of God (that same Spirit which formed the life of their souls 
in our first parents, but departed from them when they sinned) 
that this can be wrought in us their progeny. And this Spirit 
is the purchase of Christ's death, who, "when he ascended 
up on high, led captivity captive and received gifts for men." 
This is the turning point of the religion of the gospel, which 
is, therefore, called, emphatically, the dispensation of the 
Spirit. It is by this Spirit that we are convinced of sin and 
moved to repentance. It is by this Spirit that we are re- 
newed to holiness and confirmed in faith. It is by this Spirit 
that our union with Christ is witnessed, and the atonement 
of his death personally applied to the pardon of our sins and 
acceptance with God. And it is by this Spirit dwelling in 



82 CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 

us that our mortal bodies will be raised at the last day. This 
precious gift is the promise of the Father and the purchase of 
the Son. As without His quickening, renewing power, all 
the other parts of our redemption and salvation would have 
been in vain, so unless we obtain and follow the Spirit we 
can never be prepared for heaven. And what is thus so neces- 
sary for all is freely offered to all under the gospel; it is offered 
to our prayers, to our earnest endeavors to conform to the 
will of God; yea, he is present in every one of you, my 
hearers, at this present moment, though ye know him not — 
ready to perform his gracious operations upon your hearts and 
bring you back to God, turning you from sin. He stands 
ready to enlighten your ignorance, to strengthen your weak- 
ness, to reprove your folly, and admonish your carelessness. 
And how often have you grieved him, and turned away from 
the gracious convictions he hath wrought in your hearts. O 
turn not away from his wholesome though sometimes painful 
discipline, but yield yourselves to the truth which saveth; 
that, renewed in the spirit of your minds, the salvation 
wrought out for you by the Son of God may be accomplished 
by victory over sin in this life, by the attainment of the mind 
that was in Christ, and by the final triumph of soul and body 
together, over death and hell, in the great day of eternity. 
Thus shall the gracious purpose wherefore God gave his Son, 
and that Son consented to be given for us, be answered. Thus 
shall he see of the travail of his soul, and his second coming 
welcome you to the joy and glory of his heavenly kingdom. 
The religion of the gospel, my friends, is a provision of 
God's mercy to save your souls from eternal death, not ab- 
solutely, but on condition that you apply the means furnish- 
ed you, to conquer sin and attain to that holiness without 
which no man shall see the Lord. The sentence of eternal 
death stands hrm against every son of Adam who rejects the 
gospel and the love and compassion of God in giving his Son; 
and the sufferings of that Son for you will increase that con- 
demnation beyond all power of expression. From this there 
is no escape. It is the appointment from heaven, and cannot 
be reversed. Take, then, the warning of this day, and let 
the application of what has been said lead you to a serious 
consideration of what God hath done for you — of the answer 



CHRIST GIVEN TO SAVE. 



83 



you will be able to make when your account is called for, 
and from this judge of your state. In vain will Christ have 
been given by the love of God, if the purpose for which he 
came and suffered is not answered. In vain will faith in him 
be, if that faith is not fruitful in holiness. In vain shall we 
call him Lord, if we do not the things which he says. Alas! 
alas! that so many who know all these things should, never- 
theless, remain unmoved by them, and never take a single 
step God ward; who hear to condemnation, and make a preach- 
ed gospel the savor of death to their souls; whom neither love 
can draw nor fear drive from the follies of the world and the 
witcheries of sin. Merciful Lord! point the truth of thy 
word to their hearts; and let this, the holy day, witness thy 
power to save, by bringing some poor sinner "from darkness 
to light, and from the power of Satan to God." 



■ > 



• 
• • • 









' 



SEEMON VIII. 

CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 



2 Corinthians v. 21. 

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might 
be made the righteousness of God in him. 

This fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith, on which 
the gospel, with all its gracious invitations, encouraging pro- 
mises, and enlivening hopes, is founded — from which all the 
appointments, ordinances, and means of religion derive their 
whole efficacy, and to which, as the procuring cause of pardon, 
grace, and everlasting life to sinful mortals, it continually refers 
the devout worshipper of God and his Christ, forms at all times 
a proper and profitable subject for the meditations of Christians. 

It must, consequently, be to all a most solemn and impres- 
sive subject, my brethren and hearers, seeing it involves in 
its consideration the heinous and destructive nature of sin, the 
utter insufficiency of all and every human means to expiate 
the guilt of its commission, the wonderful provision of God's 
love, mercy, and wisdom, to constitute sinners righteous in 
his sight by the merits of Christ, and the personal interest 
each individual present has in this only propitiation, atone- 
ment, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, whether 
original or actual. I shall, therefore, consider the text as- 
comprising the following points of doctrine: 

First, that all men stand in need of a Saviour. 

Secondly, that the righteousness or morality of our lives- 
can avail us nothing for acceptance with God, otherwise than 
under the shield of Christ's perfect righteousness. 

Thirdly, that we can secure an interest in the satisfaction 
made to the divine justice by the death of Christ, no other- 
wise than by so receiving the testimony God hath given of 
his Son as to believe and obey the gospel. 

Fourthly, that to those only who thus receive and apply 
it, is this wonderful appointment of God, set forth in the 
text, made effectual to salvation. 



80 CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 

u For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, 
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 

I. First, then, we learn from the text that all men stand, 
in need of a saviour. 

Our condition with respect to God, how we stand in regard 
to his present and future favor, is infinitely the most impor- 
tant of all our concerns, my brethren. It may be well or it 
may be ill with us in the present life; we may enjoy or we 
mav suffer; but in either case we can look to the end of it. 
In another life, however, this advantage is done away, and 
whatever our condition shall be, it is a never-ending and un- 
changeable one. And this it is which stamps with such super- 
lative follv the guilt of those who neglect to consider, with 
the attention and seriousness it deserves, the ground of their 
expectations, whatever these may be, when death shall close 
the scene of temporal things and introduce them to those 
which are eternal. 

One very strong proof of the divine original of the Scrip- 
tures of our faith, is their agreement with the universal im- 
pressions of mankind; whether aided by revelation or left in 
the darkness of their natural state; and the complete relief 
which these Scriptures give on the difficulties of our present, 
and on the anxieties respecting our future condition, is one of 
the must convincing arguments for our thankful reception of 
them. Were we innocent creatures, we could not possibly 
reconcile the sorrows and sufferings, the pains, diseases, and 
deaths, under which the world labors, with the loving kind- 
ness and tender mercies of our heavenly Father, and were we 
only obnoxious to temporal evils, though we should fear and 
dread them, yet our fear could not be of that indescribable 
quality which accompanies the expectation of those which are 
future, and to which death is but the prelude. This demon- 
strates, I think, that there is something radically wrong in 
the constitution of human nature. Death could not be so 
much the object of fear and abhorrence to all men, seeing it 
is so certain a remedy for the miseries of time, were it not 
that there is something thereafter still more to be dreaded, to 
which we are justly liable. And let no one here say, that it 
is to revelation we owe this fear and anxiety, because those 
who never heard of heaven or hell, or of the fall and redemp- 



CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 87 

tion of man, are as fully, if not more, in "bondage to the fear 
which hath torment," than those who are favored with the 
explicit knowledge of the rewards and punishments of another 
life. Here, then, is one ground on which it may truly be 
affirmed that all stand in need of an interposition of heaven's 
mercy, to give relief to our laboring minds and save us from 
the hopeless conjectures of our sin-darkened minds, and from 
the cruel dominion of our relentless enemy; and this, we are 
accordingly informed, is one of the gracious purposes em- 
braced in the precious gift of Jesus Christ, who took our 
nature upon him, "that through death he might destroy him 
that had the power of death, and deliver them who through 
fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." 

But whence became we thus guilty, and obnoxious to all 
the consequences of guilt, in ignorance of God and alienation 
from him, opposed to his holy nature, and laboring under the 
curse which entailed sorrow and suffering, disease and death, 
both temporal and eternal, upon polluted mortality? This is 
a question, my hearers, which no human wisdom could ever 
answer. Heaven alone possessed the power, and, blessed be 
God, it possessed the will, to bring to light not only the dis- 
ease but the remedy. And here is another, and that the 
chief ground, on which rests the fundamental truth, that all 
men stand in need of a saviour. We are too apt, my friends 
and brethren, to consider the interposition of Christ as re- 
spects our personal sins only; but God's gracious purpose, in 
making him to be sin for us, had a previous object in view, 
which was to reprieve the offenders from the sentence of 
condemnation, under which the first sinner and all who should 
proceed from him were held, and by reconciling the world 
to himself, through his Son, to put them once more upon 
trial, with means to regain all that was forfeited. On this 
rests the grace of the gospel; in which God makes known to 
the world, that for what Christ hath done and suffered as 
our representative, he is reconciled to his offending creatures, 
and calls upon them to be reconciled to him by believing in 
his only begotten Son, whom he hath given "that whosoever 
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 
Hence we learn, my brethren, that there is a sense in which, 
had Christ never been given for us, we could not but have 



88 CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 

perished, that is, we must have remained exposed to all the 
consequences of Adam's sin, both temporal and eternal, 
without the remotest possibility of escape; and this we have 
exemplified to us in the continuance of those temporal evils 
which are now the means of our probation, and are hereafter 
to be entirely done away in that higher state to which Jesus 
-Christ hath undertaken to advance all those who believe and 
obey him. Thus we see that infants, who certainly have not 
sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, are never- 
theless subject to pain and suffering, to disease and death, 
equally with those who are personally guilty; which proves 
the state of condemnation under which all mankind are by 
nature, and the consequent necessity that they should be 
delivered from it. From hence we also learn, that this de- 
liverance, of which all stand in need, and which Christ has 
wrought for us, is not absolute and unconditional, but de- 
pendent on the condition of our believing in him whom God 
hath sent. "We can be, and we are, accounted righteous in 
the sight of God, or, as the text expresses it, we are "made 
the righteousness of God," only by faith in Christ our right- 
eousness. This we can entertain and manifest no otherwise 
than by embracing and obeying the gospel; and such is the 
importance of the gospel message, so every way suited to our 
wants and fitted to our state, that our Saviour declares of all 
to whom the gospel.has come, "he that believeth not is con- 
demned already; and the wrath of God abideth on him." 
This should be an alarming consideration to that great num- 
ber who are favored by the mercy of God with the gospel, 
and yet make light of the salvation it offers, comforting 
themselves with the delusive hope, that an unprocessed and 
unpractised religion will profit them, though his own most 
firm word declares, "that whosoever is not for him is against 
him;" "and whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words," 
says he, "of him will I also be ashamed before my Father 
and the holy angels." 

But there is yet another and more familiar ground on 
which to demonstrate that all men stand in need of a Saviour, 
and that is, our personal condition, my hearers, as sinners, 
both by nature and practice. 

As there is no just view which we can take of Almighty 



CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 89 

God, which presents us with any thing like imperfection in 
his nature and attributes, so there is none which we can take 
of ourselves, but what is loaded with imperfection, sin and 
guilt. Wicked men, indeed, would gladly natter themselves 
that this is not so, and particularly do they wish to think, 
that God is so entirely merciful that his attribute of justice 
will be left out of sight in his dealings with sinners. So that 
notwithstanding the clear and express declarations of his 
holy word, confirmed by his laying upon his only and beloved 
Son "the iniquities of us all," and exacting from him the 
penalty due by us, they venture to entertain the delusion 
that the religion of the gospel requires only the outward 
morality of the life, without the renewed transformation of 
the heart. Thus, also, do men of proud and unhumbled minds 
contend for the meritorious righteousness of their own cor- 
rupt, broken, and imperfect performance of the duties which 
are owing by the creature to the Creator, and by one crea- 
ture to another. 

But neither of these deceits can stand the test even of rea- 
son, far less of revelation. For, independent of the direct tes- 
timony furnished by the wonderful plan of our redemption, 
as set forth in the words of mv text — that nothing but an act 
of the highest love and mercy, of the most wonderful wisdom 
and contrivance — an act which even the angels desire to look 
into, — was competent to arrest the sentence of the broken 
law, and convert a state of alienation, sin, and death (which, 
is that of man when considered as divested of Christ) into a 
state of reconciliation, trial, and hope — independent of this 
testimony, I say, the very best of us all, even with the aid of 
divine grace, cannot but be conscious of such impurity of 
motive, such weakness of endeavor, such failure in duty, 
such actual transgression in what we know to be forbidden, 
and therefore contrary to God, as by no possibility to stand 
the scrutiny of his holy and righteous judgment. And if it 
be thus under the grace of the gospel, in the regeneration, as 
our Saviour terms it, what must it have been had this great 
and effectual sin offering never been made? And what, let 
me ask, must it yet be to those who either proudly reject or 
carelessly neglect it now that it is made., and the highest as- 
surance given that there is no other nor any more sacrifice 
[Vol. 2,-*7.] 



90 CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 

for sins, nor any other name or means by the which we can 
be accepted of God, obtain his mercy, and find grace to help 
in working out our eternal salvation? "If the righteous 
scarcely be saved" — if the most holy and righteous person 
that ever lived can be saved no otherwise than by being 
"made the righteousness of God in Cilrist," "where shall the 
ungodly and the sinner appear?" With what face shall the 
gospel sinner, for whom all this is provided, to whom it is 
freely offered, and by whom it is impiously slighted and re- 
jected, meet God in judgment? Let me beseech you, then, 
my friends, who continue to treat the gospel of on r salvation 
as a mere visiting acquaintance, but contract no familiarity 
with its saving grace, nor endeavor at any nearer intimacy 
with its great author — let me beseech you to consider where 
it must end. If you are conscious of one sin, of one dis- 
obedience to the law of CnRiST, much more of habitual dis- 
regard of his gracious appointments and ordinances, how are 
you to escape the wages due to it? Can you conceive it pos- 
sible, that God should give such a conclusive proof of his 
hatred and abhorrence of all sin, as to make his pardon of it 
to depend upon the voluntary sufferings and death of his only 
Son, as a sacrifice to the justice of his holy law, that those 
towards whom this rich redeeming love is displayed might 
continue to sin with impunity? No, God forbid! He was 
given, and he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us 
from all iniquity. And observe, I pray you, none will ever 
be accounted righteous for his sake, or, as the text expresses 
it, u be made the righteousness of God in him," but those who 
become, in fact, righteous by the means he hath provided 
and made known in the gospel. 

But let me ask you, can means, however effectual, profit 
those who never make use of them? Alas! my friends, be 
not deceived; all the wonders of our redemption by Jesus 
Christ are set forth, and made known, and offered, and 
pressed upon sinful mortals, to the intent that they should use 
and apply them, and to such only as thus act are they "made 
the power of God unto salvation." "While to those who neg- 
lect and despise the wise and wonderful means provided to 
enlighten the ignorance of fallen creatures, to reprieve con- 
demned rebels, and constitute sinners righteous in the sight 



CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 91 

of a pure and holy God, through Jesus Christ, the mercy of 
God and the love of Christ thus disregarded will prove the 
worm that never dies, the fire that never shall be quenched 
throughout an undone eternity. Be persuaded, then, I be- 
seech you, while the sparing mercy of God surrounds you 
with the means of grace, to consider seriously, that as even 
innocent creatures have no claim of right to eternal life, "for 
it is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord," far less 
can guilty, sinful creatures form any reasonable hope of it 
from any thing in themselves. For, "as all have sinned and 
come short of the glory of God," so "there is none other name 
under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, 
only the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth — whom God hath 
made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteous- 
ness of God in him." 

II. Secondly, I am to show that the righteousness or moral- 
ity of our lives can avail us nothing for acceptance with God, 
otherwise than under the shield of Christ's perfect righteous- 
ness. 

The most obvious ground on which the truth of this propo- 
sition rests is, that as nothing but what is pure and perfect 
can be agreeable in the sight of God, or hope for acceptance 
with him, and as neither the thoughts, words, or actions of 
fallen creatures can possibly possess this character, therefore, 
there can be nothing in them meritorious of reward. When 
we have done all, we are but unprofitable servants, we have 
done no more than our bare duty. This is the hard saying 
which is so grievous to the pride and self-sufficiency of hu- 
man nature. But it is a clear consequence from the funda- 
mental doctrine of our religion, that we are saved by grace; 
which means this, that the whole of our salvation, from first 
to last, not only in the great procuring cause which effected 
reconciliation with God for us, but in the fruit thereof, in our 
hearts and lives, in all holy desires, all good counsels, and 
all just works, is the operation of God in and upon us by the 
Holy GnosT; which is the purchase of Christ's death, essen- 
tial to the renewal of our fallen natures, and on his ascension 
into heaven was shed abroad upon the world to prepare man- 
kind for the gospel, and to enable them to profit by it. 
Whence it follows, that as we have nothing that we have not 



92 CHRIST THE SEN" OFFERING. 

received, to look upon our good actions as wrought by our 
own strength, or as at all meritorious of reward, or even as 
free from imperfection, is not only to rob God of the glory 
due to his grace, but to show evidently that we know noth- 
ing of ourselves as yet as we ought to know it — of the true 
condition of human nature as fallen and depraved, and of 
what God hath done to raise it, and revive his image upon 
it, and bring it back to himself. And this is confirmed to us 
both by observation and experience. For those who contend 
for the morality of their lives as meritorious of salvation, and. 
rest their hope of hereafter on this sandy foundation, are 
generally such persons as, though not in direct opposition to 
the gospel, are yet not professors of religion, or, if they chance 
to be so, are such for reasons distinct from any saving con- 
viction of their own danger because of personal sin, or from 
any realizing view of Chuist as the end of the law for right- 
eousness, to every one that believeth. The knowledge of the 
fact as revealed, may bring men to assent in terms to Christ 
in all his offices as set forth in the gospel; but nothing short 
of a deep sense of their own personal guilt and danger by 
reason of sin, such as can be wrought in the heart of man 
by the Holy Spirit alone, and that in the Lord only have we 
righteousness and strength, can bring them to renounce them- 
selves, their poor, broken, impure, and imperfect works, ear- 
nestly desiring "to win Christ and to be found in him; not 
having their own righteousness, but that which is through the 
faith of Cueist" — "whom God hath made to be sin for us, that 
we might be made the righteousness of God in him." This 
we know to be perfect, and, therefore, acceptable before God; 
our own we know to be imperfect, and, therefore, not to be 
trusted to in so serious a concern as the loss or salvation of 
our souls. That it must be perfect and complete, lacking 
nothing, the text teaches us, inasmuch as even the sacrifice 
through which mercy reaches the sinner was required to be 
spotless. "Him who knew no sin hath God made to be sin 
for us." He can accept nothing polluted or imperfect. Hence 
we see the danger of trusting to our own righteousness, the 
absolute necessity of an interest in Christ "the Lord our 
righteousness;" and the depth of that wisdom which hath pro- 
vided for fallen creatures a righteousness, in which to see God 



CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 93 

and live. Hence also it is called in Scripture "the righteous- 
ness of God," because it is perfect, and of his institution, or- 
dination, and appointment, and that which alone he will ac- 
cept from the sinner for justification of life; and it is called 
"the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ," 
because it is received and applied only by faith in Christ as 
the procuring cause. Hence we learn, 

III. Thirdly, that we can secure an interest in the satis- 
faction made to the divine justice by the death of Christ, no 
otherwise than by so receiving the testimony God hath given 
of his Son as to believe and obey the gospel. 

That God, intending to redeem fallen creatures, should 
make known to them both the method and the conditions of 
liis mercy, is not to be disputed without involving an absur- 
dity. And, admitting we are redeemed, the only inquiry 
which befits and can be useful to those who are the objects 
of redemption, is, by what method and on what conditions is 
it effected? Now we all profess to believe, in one sense or 
another, that God has interposed by his Son to turn away 
the sad consequences of sin and rebellion from his guilty 
creatures; and had we no gospel, no revelation, or was it hard 
to come at, and difficult to understand, sure I am we should 
consider it a great hardship, but should be much more intent 
than we now are to find out all that related to it. But surely 
we might reflect, that the ease and readiness with which we 
can erne at the knowledge of what most concerns us, will 
serve to deepen the guilt of remaining ignorant of or unaf- 
fected by so gracious a proof of God's good will and tender 
love towards us as is displayed in the gospel of Christ. Now 
let me ask this congregation of Christian people, suppose 
their eternal salvation was this moment to be decided accord- 
ing to the care and attention with which each one had 
endeavored to make himself acquainted with the Scriptures 
as the revealed will of God, how many of those now present 
would reap any advantage from such an offer? I make these 
remarks and put this question, my hearers, in the hope it 
may startle the neglecters of God's word, and convince them 
how vain it is to expect religious benefit if they take no pains 
to become religious; that it may rouse them to consider care- 
fully what it is, and the interest they have in making it their 



94: 



CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 



own. For so sure as God Lath spoken to us by his Son, my 
brethren, and we are to be judged by the word thus spoken, 
so sure is it, that if we do not seek we shall not find; so sure 
is it, that if the value of our immortal souls does not interest 
us, so as to inquire, and that earnestly too, what must we do 
to be saved, we never can be saved. For it is not that the 
salvation or damnation of thousands of such worlds as this 
can in any way affect Almighty God — he is infinitely be- 
yond such considerations, and hath no need of the sinful 
man; but it is of his essential and undeserved goodness, and 
for our advantage, that all the wonders of his redeeming love 
have been wrought and made known; so that the sin of in- 
gratitude is added to that of disobedience, in all who fail to 
search the Scriptures and satisfy themselves respecting the 
great truths of our holy religion. The testimony which God 
hath given of his Son is so direct, and at the same time so 
consonant with his dignity and the nature of his office as the 
instructer, propitiation, and Saviour of sinners, as at once to 
draw the attention and deserve the most serious consideration 
of those who are favored with it; while the unspeakable inte- 
rests dependent on its reception or rejection, are calculated 
to secure that accurate investigation which accountable beings 
might fairly be supposed to make. Yet notwithstanding all 
this, on no other subject is so much carelessness manifested, 
on no other do men so generally content themselves with 
acknowledgment in the gross and disregard in the particulars; 
satisfied with the mere cursory knowledge of the facts, with- 
out considering the bearing those facts have on their present 
and future welfare. But, my brethren and hearers, the mere 
knowledge of the gospel, though in itself an advantage, and 
one to be accounted for, is no otherwise effectual than as it 
is improved in our practice. The testimony God hath given 
of his Son, is to assure us that we may safely trust our souls 
to his saving power. To reject or neglect this testimony is 
to make God a liar, and to bar ourselves out from any en- 
trance of religion into our souls. For to as many as receive 
him, and them only, does he give the power or privilege to 
become the Sons of God. "While we content ourselves, then, 
with the mere knowledge of the gospel, without becoming 
the disciples of Chksit by an open profession of him as our 
only Saviour, or making such profession without obeying the 



CHRIST THE SIK OFFERING. 95 

laws and rules of his kingdom, we deceive ourselves if wo 
expect any benefit from his death. For, 

IY. Fourthly, to those only who thus receive and apply 
it, is this wonderful appointment of God, set forth in the text, 
made effectual to salvation. 

That a gracious God, in bringing salvation to sinners, should 
have so appointed as to make the whole dependent on an- 
other, and not on the sinners themselves, is a stumbling block 
to the wisdom of the world. But we may be sure, from its 
being thus ordered, that it is not only most consonant with 
the perfections and dignity of God, as the supreme governor 
of the universe, but the best and the wisest, also, for those for 
whom it is provided. And the reason of thus providing for 
us through the righteousness of another, is plain and con- 
vincing, even to our poor apprehensions. For, says the apostle, 
"what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the 
flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh 
and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness 
of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the 
flesh but after the Spirit." "The law of the Lord is perfect;" 
but whence could fallen creatures, with faculties impaired 
and depraved, fulfil its holy conditions, even say that no pre- 
vious condemnation was to be removed to make room for a 
new trial; and the goodness of God is as eminently displayed 
in providing a particular method for bestowing his favor upon 
us, as if he did it without any such particular provision. The 
question is not in how many or what other ways the omni- 
potence of God could have saved sinners, but according to 
what method and upon what conditions has he done it. This 
is all that concerns us in the first place; as humble, thankful 
acceptance, and diligent observance of the means appointed, 
is what concerns us in the next place. For we may be per- 
fectly sure, that God having condescended to mark out a way 
for the attainment of heaven, that and that alone can bring 
us thither. Yain and ruinous, therefore, is the expectation 
that the gospel will profit us, unless we take care to profit by 
the grace it brings us; and miserable and dreadful the disap- 
pointment of those who consider so little the mercy and wis- 
dom of God, "in making him who knew no sin to be sin for 
us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 



yo CHRIST THE SIN OFFERING. 

as never to have taken one step towards securing the advan- 
tages so freely offered us in Christ Jesus. No, nut even so 
much as professing the religion he taught, or observing the 
prdinances he has commanded. Oh! to how many thousands, 
if they continue thus, will that merciful Saviour, who was 
content to be made sin for them, have to say in the great day 
of eternity — "I never knew you!" Lokd, were we not born 
under thy gospel, baptized in thy name, and knew we not 
thee always as the Saviour of sinners? may they say. But, 
alas! what will they answer to such replies as these, my care- 
less, unconverted hearers — Have ye kept your baptismal vow? 
"Were you saved from sin when in the world? Did you obey 
the precepts and example I left with you? Did you ever 
openly confess me before men? How often have I been set 
forth before your eyes, evidently crucified for you, and you 
have turned your backs upon my body broken and blood shed 
to buy your souls? Lord, we trusted in thy mercy. And 
hath not mercy and warning waited upon you twenty, thirty, 
forty, fifty, sixty, seventy years; but now the door of mercy 
is shut. I am no longer a Saviour, but a Judge. Ye would 
not be made holy in your day of grace, ye cannot be made 
happy in eternity. Depart, ye cursed, to the portion ye have 
chosen. O that God may be pleased to sanctify his truth to 
your hearts, and that that merciful Saviour, whom you now 
slight, may yet intercede for you and lengthen your day of 
grace, ;.nd give you to perceive and to seek after the things 
which iiiiike for your peace, before they are forever hid from 
your eyes. 

And, dear brethren, let us ever bear in mind the high pur- 
pose for which God made him who knew no sin to be sin lor 
us — the holy and merciful design with which he gave himself 
for us — the gracious end of all the ordinances and command- 
ments of our Lord, that our lives may be answerable to the 
hope we profess: and tint at the last day, when he shall 
come again with power and great glory to judge the world, 
we may be found the righteousness of God in him who loved 
us, and gave himself for us, and washed us from our sins in 
his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God, even 
his Father. To whom, in the unity of the eterpal Godhead, 
be glory and praise, now and for ever! 



SERMON IX, 

THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 



1 Timothy ii 5. 

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man 
Christ Jesus. 

From the nature of God and the actual condition of the 
world, it would be utterly impossible, without further inform- 
ation, to deduce the reasonableness, the obligation, or the 
advantage of any religious duty whatever, on the part of man 
towards his Maker. That the perfections of Almighty God 
are all absolute, and without any limitation, deficiency, or 
qualification whatever, is one of those original, self-evident 
truths, which are independent of all proof, and admit of no 
more question than the existence and necessary attributes of 
the Supreme Moral Governor of the Universe. That the 
condition of man is the very reverse .of this, is equally evi- 
dent, from our experience of ourselves and from what obser- 
vation teaches us of others. Hence, as there can be no point 
of union between perfection and imperfection in the parties 
themselves, the claims of natural religion, as it is called, are 
totally groundless, and all arguments founded on such an as- 
sumption are mere nullities, because the thing itself never 
did and never can exist. 

If man is now what his Maker originally created him, and 
acting now in his every day conduct according to the law at 
first impressed upon his nature, — which must be the case if 
he has never swerved from God, — then he is a guiltless crea- 
ture, and nothing more or better can be required of him, even 
by infinite justice. But if this is not the case, if by the com- 
mon consent of natural reason, and by the higher authority 
of heavenly revelation, he is shown to be a fallen creature, 
departed from his original character, separated, in conse- 
quence, from God his Maker, with broken faculties and de- 
praved affections, then is he at once a guilty and a powerless 



9S THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 

being, without a shadow of help in himself to alter or amend 
this miserable state, to propitiate God, or to render him any 
acceptable, much less rewardable service. Hence, if religion 
has any claims upon us at all, it must be upon the principle 
set forth in my text; it must be upon this demonstrable posi- 
tion, that if there be a point of union between God as he is 
and man as he is, it must be found in some third person, 
whose fpiialihcations are such as fully to meet the claims and 
demands of the one, and the wants and necessities of the 
other, of the two parties to this awful controversy. 

Irrefragable as this position is from the plainest principles 
of reason, it is, happily, my brethren, put beyond all dispute 
by the whole structure of the religion we profess, whose fun- 
damental doctrines are the fall and depravation of man by 
sin, and his recovery by and through a mediator between 
God and man. 

That we should have right views on this subject is, there- 
fore, of the highest importance; because all application on our 
part to God, either to obtain his favor or to deprecate his 
wrath, must spring from these two sources; first, a sense of 
want and exposure on our part; secondly, some well grounded 
hope that God is placable and may be sought unto. 

Deprive mankind of either of these, I care not which, and 
you deprive them of all religious motive, obligation, help, 
and hope. And in proportion as these doctrines are realized 
in the just extent of their application, or neutralized and 
perverted by the natural enmity of the carnal mind to their 
humbling, yet saving efficacy, will the fruits of genuine reli- 
gion or counterfeit Christianity be visible. "Other founda- 
tion can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 
"No man cometh to the Father but by me," says our Lord, 
and I am yet to learn where or how fallen man can obtain 
any knowledge of God as a God of mercy, unconnected with 
Jesus Christ as the procuring cause of that pardon, grace, 
and eternal life, which is offered to a world of sinners, through 
faith in his only saving name. 

Let us then, my brethren, endeavor to obtain clear and 
settled views on this most influential subject, that we may be 
guarded alike from entertaining a hope for which we can 
render no satisfactory reason, or from trusting to an expec- 
tation whose foundation is laid in the sand. 



THB MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 99 

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and 
men, the man Christ Jesus." 

In furtherance of this object, I will consider, 

First, the nature of our Lord's mediatorial office. 

Secondly, the suitableness of the person appointed. 

Thirdly, our duty and privilege under this provision of 
the love of God our Saviour. 

I. First, the nature of our Lord's mediatorial office. 

A mediator, as the word itself implies, means one who in- 
terposes between persons at variance, who uses influence of 
any kind to reconcile and restore to friendly intercourse those 
who are separated from each other. The office which the 
Lord Jesus Christ sustains, therefore, is of this kind, and, 
from the condition of human nature, must be in continual 
operation, — that is, must be exercised so long as any variance 
shall continue between God and men. Hence we read, "that 
he ever liveth to make intercession for us." 

It is, however, by considering the cause and the conse- 
quences of the rupture and separation between God and his 
creature, that we shall best understand and appreciate this 
relation in which the man Jesus Christ is presented to us. 

The cause, then, was sin, manifested by the transgression 
of an express command of God b} r our first parents, the rep- 
resentatives of the whole human race; and the consequences 
were, the loss of God's favor, exclusion from his presence, 
spiritual death, and exposure to all the penalties previously 
denounced against disobedience, by the law which was 
broken; and these effects followed, not singly to the first 
transgressors, but as they were spared by the mediation of 
the Son of God, and reprieved from the immediate execu- 
tion of the sentence, to us also, their descendants. Here I 
would digress for a moment, my hearers, to obviate a very 
common ground of objection and unbelief, in considering it 
unjust to extend these consequences to the unoffending off- 
spring of the first sinners. This, however, as well as all other 
unbelief, proceeds from not duly considering the subject. As 
our first parents, on their trial, stood for their posterity as 
well as for themselves, and we should have reaped the blessed 
effects of their faithfulness had they withstood the temptation, 
the justice of God stands clear of all imputation in our sharing 



100 THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 

in and suffering under the consequences of their sin. As a 
fallen sinner, we read, that Adam begat a son in his own 
likeness; as an obedient believer the event would in like 
manner have corresponded with his condition. 

Sin having thus entered into that new created world, which 
its Almighty Maker pronounced very good, and the conse- 
quences denounced against it being inevitable from the truth 
and justice of Jehovah, we have but to ask ourselves, what 
help or means there was with the sinner himself to avoid or 
escape from the curse, to enable us to form some just and 
j>roper notion of the mediatorial office of our ever blessed 
Redeemer. 

For in the first place, the justice of God demanded, inex- 
orably, that full satisfaction should be made to the broken 
law; but this involved the personal destruction of the offender 
by the suffering of death, and by consequence precluded all 
exercise of mercy. A substitute, therefore, must be found 
equal to the extent of this demand, to suffering and over- 
coming the death denounced against sin. And this substi- 
tute presented himself for us in the only begotten Son of God, 
who "'took our nature upon him, that through death he might 
destroy death, and him that had the power of it." 

Secondly, 6in itself, as that which God abhors, and upon 
which the purity and holiness of his nature cannot look with 
the least degree of allowance, was to be put away and banish-? 
ed for ever from the presence of God. But what sinner can 
undo his own sin as an offence against God? The means for 
this also were to be found in another, and that other was 
found in the same Son of God, who afterwards became the 
man Christ Jksts, "who for us men and for our salvation 
came down from heaven;" who "put away sin by the 
sacrifice of himself," who undertook to bring in everlasting 
righteousness, and is now carrying on and will finally ac- 
complish this mighty and glorious work, in that new heaven 
and new earth wherein righteousness shall dwell for ever, 
while death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire. 

Thirdly, the renewal of spiritual life in the sinner spirit- 
ually dead, was essential to give this holy and merciful un- 
dertaking its effect, and to fit fallen man for the new state of 
trial thus procured for him. 



THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHEIST. 101 

But who can confer this indispensable gift, but God only? 
Is it, can it be, in man fallen to renew himself? Is it in man, 
the sinner, destitute and helpless, to turn and prepare him- 
self by his own natural strength and good works to faith and 
calling upon God? No, my brethren, by every testimony 
which can give certainty to truth, and by every proof which 
experience can supply, "that which is born of the flesh is 
flesh," and can rise no higher; "that only which is born of 
the Spirit is spirit," or spiritual. 

Here then is a difficulty, were there no other, insuperable 
to human power, beyond the reach of human means, which 
can be removed only by and through the Lord Jesus Curist, 
who by the Holy Ghost given for this purpose, carries on 
the great work of regenerating, converting and sanctifying 
the world. Hence we read that "when he had by himself 
purged our sins, bearing them in his own body on the tree, 
he rose from the dead, ascended up on high, led captivity 
captive, and received gifts for men." 

Thus we learn, mv brethren and hearers, to understand 
the nature and extent of the office which the man Christ 
Jesus tills, as mediator between God and men. That it is not 
confined to his present intercession for sinners, as we. are apt 
too carelessly to imagine; but that it reaches back to the first 
procurement of mercy, pervades the whole order of God's 
providence, and extends forward to the final consummation 
of the mystery of God in Christ, when, all enemies being- 
subdued under his feet, and the gracious purpose of his un- 
dertaking the office being answered in the everlasting salva- 
tion of all who believe and obey the gospel, the mediatorial 
kingdom of grace shall end and the kingdom of glory com- 
mence, where there shall be no more sin, "no more death, 
neither shall there be any more pain;" where God shall wipe 
away all tears from the eyes" of his servants, and "the Lamb 
which is in the midst of the throne," which "redeemed them 
to God by his blood, shall feed them, and lead them beside 
living fountains of water, and God himself shall be with them 
and be their God. 

II. Secondly, I am to consider the suitableness of the per- 
son appointed to fill this office. 

That the office of a peace-maker, a reconciler of differences 



102 THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 

between those who are at variance, may be performed by 
any who possess that kind and Christian disposition, we all 
understand, my friends. Yet there is to our apprehensions 
a certain fitness and propriety of character, according to the 
condition of the parties and the circumstances of the case, in 
the person who undertakes the office, which gives weight 
and impression to his representations; and we know by ex- 
perience that considerations which produce no effect when 
urged by one person, will, nevertheless, succeed when pre- 
sented by another. Hence we are prepared to expect, and 
I think I may say to require, that the person who stands in 
this relation between God and men, should possess that fit- 
ness and that propriety of character and condition, as respects 
the parties, which shall give reasonable ground to hope for 
success. 

Now, in every requisite, according to our comprehension 
of them, the man Cueist Jesus will be found not only suitable, 
but the only person capable of sustaining this office, of meet- 
ing fully all its requirements, and supplying all its necessities. 

First, as the only begotten Son of God, and consequently 
of the same nature and essence with his Father, he alone was 
worthy and competent to step forward either to ask or to 
offer in our behalf. 

To perceive this more clearly, let us reflect a moment, my 
brethren, on the nature of the controversy. 

This was not a case in which there might be blame on 
both skies, and by mutual concession the breach be repaired; 
but one in which the offence was altogether on one side. 

This was not a case of offence between equals, either in 
nature or condition; but between parties infinitely removed 
from each other in both these respects. 

Tliis was not a case of offence finite in its nature and tran- 
sient in its consequences; but permanently opposed to and 
opposing all the perfections of Deity. 

This was not a case in which compensation could be made 
by the offender; but one which involved his utter destruction 
as the only vindication commensurate with the offence. 

And the object to be gained was not mere reconciliation, 
but beyond this, the procuring of means to undo the mis- 
chief, to defeat the consequences, and restore the offender, on 



THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 103 

proper and possible conditions, to the happiness he had for- 
feited — to convert a state of sin and death into one of holi- 
ness and life eternal. 

Now, my dear brethren, friends, and hearers, where, in 
the whole range of possible thought, can a person be found 
competent to interpose and to mediate with effect in such a 
strife and between such parties, other than the man Christ 
Jesus, as set forth to us in the word of God? Where else 
shall "a Daysman," as Job styles him, be found, qualified 
"to lay his hand upon both," that is, possessing properties 
where both might meet and be at one? Suppose, for a 
moment, that the offence was only this day committed, and 
we were met to consult how to undo it or escape from the 
consequences, to what quarter could we turn, to what re- 
source could we resort? Suppose we were willing to make 
submission and to implore forgiveness, whom among our 
fellows in iniquity should we pitch upon to appear before 
God in our behalf? Oh! would not the reason that is left tell 
us it must be all in vain — that our envoy, partaking of the 
common guilt, would himself stand in need of a mediator — 
that partaking of but one nature, he could have no access to 
God, and must be consumed by his holy presence? 

In the proper divinity of the man Christ Jesus, then, is 
fallen man's only hope. His mediatorial qualifications would 
be incomplete without it. There being nothing in his nature 
common to both parties, he could only be a mediator of one, 
and could not meet the requirements of the nature he did 
not possess. 

How far it is competent for Almighty God to make the 
mediation of a created being available to the redemption and 
salvation of sinners, is a question which will never be enter- 
tained by any sane mind, because it is one which never can 
be resolved. Nothing, it appears to me, short of the full 
qualification for this office, which consists in possessing the 
nature belonging to each of the parties, can present any rea- 
sonable ground of confidence to sinners in the awful antici- 
pations of death and judgment, and relieve mankind from 
the deplorable dilemma of being without any revelation of 
the will of God, or with one so uncertain as to be utterly un- 
worthy of the name, and unable to make us wise unto salva- 



10-1 THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST, 

tion. For to this result all speculations which trench upon 
the divinity of the man Christ Jesus inevitably lead; and it 
is my duty, my brethren, not only to warn you against them, 
but to give you plain grounds on which to resist the sophistry 
wherewith thev are inculcated, anions; which I know of 
none, not drawn from the express words of Scripture, plainer 
or stronger than that which is found in a just view of his 
mediatorial office. 

Secondly, as the Son of Man, (so called from having taken 
the human nature into union with the divine in his own per- 
son,) he was competent to represent all mankind, and, as such, 
to undertake to do and to suffer whatever was required by 
the perfections of Deity in order to reconcile the world to 
himself, and usher in a dispensation of mercy and grace to men. 
This, my brethren, completes the mediatorial character of 
our Lord, and presents him to our view as every way suited 
to our case. 

Whatever the honor and dignity of the divine government 
required to be inflicted upon the transgressor of God's holy 
law, was met by a representative both able and willing to 
bear the stroke of vindictive justice, and make that full satis- 
faction which alone could usher in the exercise of mercy. 

Whatever the holiness of the divine law demanded of per- 
fect obedience, to its precepts, in all the length, and breadth, 
and height, and depth of its spiritual as well as literal ex- 
tent, could be paid, and its just claims discharged, in the 
very nature which transgressed. 

Whatever of example was needed to encourage redeemed 
man to rise from the death of sin and strive for the attainment 
of holiness, was given in the life of the man Christ Jesus. 

And whatever can invigorate faith and hope with prospects 
beyond the grave, is certilied and assured by the resurrection 
and ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, there, in both 
natures, to appear in the presence of God for us. 

Now, my dear hearers, let us ask ourselves, and with that 
seriousness which an immortal interest should produce, what 
is there lacking in the qualities of the mediator provided for 
us by God? Is there any thing that you would wish added, 
altered, or taken away? Is there a single provision in his 
mediatorial character for which there is not a corresponding 



THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 105 

want iii the condition of man? Is this poor delineation of it 
founded on and in agreement with the word of God? And 
have you better authority for his nature, his office, and the 
connexion of both with your actual condition? Oh! what un- 
speakable interests are connected with right views and a right 
practice of and under this provision of heaven's wisdom, 
mercy, and love. May a gracious God keep and defend you 
from the contagion of that pride which rises against the 
humbling truth, that man in himself is nothing — that his sal- 
vation is of grace, and all his sufficiency of God, by and 
through a divine mediator. 

III. Thirdly, I am to consider and point out our duty and 
privileges, under this provision of the love of God our Saviour. 

An obligation conferred implies a duty to be performed; if 
not in kind — which may be impossible — yet in the senti- 
ment entertained of the favor bestowed. This is true of the 
common concerns of life, and must be proportionally more 
obligatory in the higher interests of eternity. The redeemed 
state of mankind, therefore, declared and authenticated by 
the gospel, as it is the highest favor that could be conferred, 
involves the strongest possible obligation to embrace and 
improve it. To those, therefore, who are called to the know- 
ledge of this grace, the duty of applying themselves to what- 
ever can further and forward the ultimate object of eternal 
salvation, must be the first and highest obligation they feel 
themselves under. And did men only give a reasonable 
portion of attention and serious consideration to their con- 
dition as accountable beings, as immortal beings, as redeemed 
beings, they could not fail to be more deeply impressed with 
what they owe to God and their own souls, and more earn- 
estly engaged in seeking the pearl of great price. They 
would apprehend better what religion really is; they would 
understand more clearly the part they have to perform in 
working out their eternal salvation, and be induced more 
heartily to engage in it. For surely where every obstacle is 
removed, all needful help promised, and the highest reward 
offered, the deepest sense of gratitude and love should fill 
the hearts, and the most earnest engagement rule the lives 
of all under the gospel. My brethren and hearers, we are 
redeemed that we may be saved; the means of grace are pro- 
[Vol. 2,-*8.] 



106 THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 

vided that they may be used; a mediator is appointed to 
stand between the holiness of God and our un worthiness; 
salvation is limited on faith in his name; his qualifications 
are every way suitable; and the gospel is the proclamation 
of these facts for our information and assurance. Our duty, 
therefore, is to believe the gospel, to follow the direction and 
example there given us, by personal endeavor to bring our- 
selves within reach of its promised grace and saving mercy r 
and by exertion and perseverence to "press toward the mark 
for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 
Nothing else can prove that we have any just sense of what 
God hath done for us, any fear or reverence of his glorious 
name, any desire to be saved. For so long as we slight the 
invitations of the gospel, and on any pretence hold ourselves 
back from the duties it enjoins, we do, in fact, persist in re- 
bellion against God, reject the mediation of Jesus Christ,. 
and if we continue thus must perish for ever. 

What is thus so clearly onr duty is also our privilege, my 
brethren and hearers. 

For as God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,, 
and as Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for 
every man, it is the privilege, the heaven-granted, blood- 
purchased privilege, of every child of Adam, to come unto 
God by him; to return to his Father's house; to receive the 
welcome of a pardoned penitent, and to be clothed with the 
best robe, even the unspotted righteousness of Christ, i It is 
the high privilege, I say, of all who hear the joyful sound of 
the gospel, on the simple faith of the message itself, to draw 
near to God through Jesus Christ. It is the warrant to be- 
lieve, "that God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to ob- 
tain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." What saith 
the Father in this message of love and mercy to man? "This 
is my beloved Son, hear ye him." And what saith that be- 
loved Son? "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy 
laden and I will give you rest; learn of me." And what 
saith the Spirit of truth to the Churches of this beloved Son? 
"He is able to save, to the uttermost, all who come unto God 
by him." It is your high privilege, then, my dear hearers, 
.forthwith to cast your idols (the vanities of the world and the 
lusts of the flesh) to the moles and to the bats; to lay down 



THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 107 

the weapons of your rebellion, and return to him who hath 
made and redeemed you; to enter the school of Christ, and 
there be made wise unto salvation. "All things are ready, 
come ye to the marriage." And what hinders? Who can 
stand up and show cause why this gracious invitation should 
not be accepted? Alas! alas! that immortal souls, that reason- 
able creatures, should prefer darkness to light, and choose 
death in the face of eternal life. Yet so it is — the gospel is 
a savor of death as well as a savor of life; but not -by God's 
appointment. Eternal death is the wages of unbelief, the 
end of those who will not receive the love of truth, that thev 
might be saved — who will not believe that message of mercy 
which God hath spoken unto us by his Son. 

But it is more particularly, my brethren, the privilege of 
the believer, through this one mediator, to approach God in 
acts of private and public worship, especially in prayer. 
This is the foundation on which, in the chapter from which 
my text is taken, St. Paul rests the obligation and the efficacy 
of the worship of God. "This is a faithful saying," says he, 
in the chapter before this, "and worthy of all acceptation, 
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." "I 
exhort, therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, and 
intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;" 
"for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Sa- 
viour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto 
the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one 
mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who 
gave himself a ransom for all." "I will, therefore, that men 
pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and 
doubting." 

Hence, it would appear, my brethren, that in the judgment 
of St. Paul, the only reasonable ground of religious duty or 
religious hope in man, is found in the mediation of the man 
Christ Jesus; and that this mode of access to the Father be- 
ing provided for us, it becomes not only the duty but the 
privilege of believers to draw near to God in supplications 
for themselves and others. More particularly does it appear, 
that thm is the privilege of public worship, of joint or com- 
mon prwer; and the reason, I think, is obvious. Whatever 
we do is coupled with imperfection,, the holiest of our duties 



108 THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST. 

need the intercession of a mediator, holy, harmless, and un- 
denied, to render them acceptable to a pure and holy God. 
Without a mediator, therefore, faith is vain, prayer useless, 
and hope a delusion; but with an intercessor possessing the 
qualifications of onr great High Priest, a new and living way 
is opened for us to a throne of grace. Let us, therefore, my 
brethren, "draw near with true hearts, in full assurance of 
faith, that he who spared not his own Son, butfreelv delivered 
him up for us all, will, with him, also freely give us all 
things." That we are thus furnished is an argument to warm 
the coldest heart, to encourage the most timid spirit. That 
we are thus provided, is a warning that we come not before 
God otherwise than he hath appointed. Wo unto that man 
who, in the fond conceit of his own worthiness, looks to God 
through himself, rejects the one only mediator between God 
and man, or adds others to His infinite sufficiency. God out 
of Christ is a consuming fire. Christ rejected is an accusing 
witness, a condemning judge. Christ dishonored is double 
perdition. "Let us, therefore, my brethren, have grace, 
whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and 
godly fear." 

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without waver- 
ing," that when faith shall end in sight, and the man Christ 
Jesus come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, 
we may be accounted worthy to enter in through the gates 
into the city, and to join with all the company of heaven in 
ascribing glory, honor and salvation, to him who loved us, 
and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us 
kings and priests unto God even his Father, world without end. 



i 









SERMON X. 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 



Romans x. 4. 

For Chkist is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that 
believeth. 

As the accountability of moral agents is to be inferred from 
their nature; as obedience required implies a law given by 
which it is to be tested; and as a judgment expected neces- 
sarily involves acquittal or condemnation; the process by 
which we arrive at our real condition as amenable to him 
who hath made us, is within the reach of every rational be- 
ing, independently of what we are in the habit of considering 
as revelation. Upon this ground, the apostle's argument, in 
the first part of this epistle, respecting the Gentile world, 
seems to be constructed, where he infers their capacity to 
know God from the consideration of his works, and their ob- 
ligation to worship and serve him according to the law writ- 
ten in their hearts; and so far there is not a dissenting voice 
in the world of his creatures, whether Pagan or Christian. 

But the nature of that accountability, my hearers, the ex- 
tent and quality of that obedience, and the consequences of 
that judgment, can never be satisfactorily ascertained by this 
general principle. For however undeniable in its truth, uni- 
versal in its acknowledgment, and infinite in its application 
and use, yet, nevertheless, it sheds but a faint and obscure 
light upon the ten thousand anxieties which occupy the heart 
awake and alive to the unspeakable interests of eternity. 

Hence not only the absolute necessity, but the infinite and. 
priceless value, of the revelation we are favored with in the 
Scriptures of our faith, which is truly a light shining in a dark 
place, and the only light which can afford us a gleam of hope 
or a ray of comfort in the deep, and solemn, and overwhelm- 
ing inquiry — "wherewithal shall I appear before the Lokd? 
what shall I do to be saved?" To this there is but one an- 



110 CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 

swer, my friends, and as we are able with a good conscience 
to apply it to ourselves, will it be well or ill with us for ever. 
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," 
is the short but comprehensive reply of God's most true and 
faithful word to the convinced and penitent sinner; as it, also, 
is the clear and express declaration of the same unchangea- 
ble word, that "there is none other name under heaven given 
among men whereby we must be saved, only the name of 
Jesus Christ of Nazareth." And hence the deep importance 
to each one of us personally, to examine and ascertain whe- 
ther we are believers, in the Scripture sense of the word; be- 
cause on this one point depends whether we have the slight- 
est interest in the mercy revealed in the gospel. And so in- 
disputably certain is this truth, that if every other point in 
the obedience of faith were fulfilled by us under the gospel, 
this foundation and corner stone of all being wanting, the 
rest would profit us nothing. This I purpose, with God'b 
good help, to demonstrate to you from the words of my text, 
applying them as St. Paul did, to shake, and I pray God it 
may be granted me, to pull down the unfounded confidence 
of too many in these days, who, like those of whom the apos- 
tle speaks in this chapter, but not with the same excuse, "go- 
ing about to establish their own righteousness, have not sub- 
mitted themse\yes to the righteousness of God." 

In discoursing on this subject, I shall, in the 

First place, consider in what sense we are to take the word 
law, as here used by the apostle. 

Secondly, what is the extent and nature of that claim 
which the law of God has upon us. 

Thirdly, the means by which alone that claim can be 
satisfied. 

Fourthly, what is meant by Christ's being the end of 
the law. 

Lastly, I shall apply the subject. 

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every 
one that believeth." 

I. First, I am to consider in what sense we are to take the 
word law, as here used by the apostle. 

I believe I am not mistaken when I take for granted, that 
to the generality of Christians there is considerable difficulty 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. Ill 

and no small confusion of mind on the subject, occasioned 
principally by want of attention to the various meanings in 
which the word law is used by this and the other apostles in 
the New Testament — and that this difficulty is increased by 
the plausible manner in which the word, and those passages 
of Scripture in which it is found, have been pressed into the 
service and support of different systems of divinity; an evil 
which is now perhaps without remedy, however evident it 
may be that the particular system is constructed on such a 
sense and meaning given to a particular word, such as law, 
faith, elect, &c, as is not consistent with the general tenor of 
the word of God taken as a whole; under which impression 
the Scriptures are read with a bias and prejudice upon the 
mind, in favor of that interpretation which best accords with 
the system of doctrine we may have adopted. And wonder- 
ful it is to reflect, with what readiness remote and even irrel- 
evant passages of Scripture seem to come together in our 
minds, to support and confirm our previous impressions; and 
how those which militate against us, and conflict with our 
favorite notions, fall powerless un our pre-occupied under- 
standings. 

On which, I will only observe — that while each must make 
the application for himself, all should be on their guard 
against that dangerous influence which risks a soul for the 
sake of a system. 

By the word law we understand, in general, a rule of con- 
duct enforced by a penalty. And the divine law, which is 
our present subject, differs in nothing from human law ex- 
cept in the supreme nature of its authority and of the sanc- 
tions by which it is enforced. This will be evident, if we 
consider that the same principles are common to both. Nei- 
ther affects those who are subject to it unless it be disobeyed. 
What effect has the law of the land against gaming, for in- 
stance, upon the man who never plays, or the law of God 
against theft, upon the man who does not steal? The penalty 
sleeps in both cases — and in this sense it is that St. Paul says, 
"the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless 
and disobedient." In like manner when either of them is 
disobeyed, that moment guilt is incurred, which never can 
be removed and the law satisfied, unless by the infliction of 



112 CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 

the penalty on the offender. From the very nature of law it 
can know nothing of mercy; that, if to be had at all, must be 
sought for elsewhere. Moreover, neither divine nor human 
laws propose any reward for the performance of duty. Pro- 
tection and safety in the state we are in is all that law, con- 
sidered in itself, proposes or confers on the obedient. This 
our own experience shows to be the case in the operation of 
human laws; and revelation teaches us that it was thus with 
Adam under the original law of God; for we read oi nothing 
like reward, or an addition to the state he was in, promised 
to his obedience by the terms of the law. But while they 
thus agree in those principles which are common to law, as 
such, they differ in one respect. Human laws may and must 
be altered, amended, and repealed, according to the change 
of times and circumstances; but God's Holy Law, being a 
transcript of his own perfections, is everlasting and unchange- 
able. These observations are necessary to be borne in mind, 
my brethren, if we would come to a safe and practical un- 
derstanding of the subject before us. 

It is plain, from the context, that the apostle, speaking in 
this chapter of the Jews, uses the word law as referring to 
the law <men bv Moses — but it would be to defeat the whole 
purpose of this epistle, indeed of the New Testament revela- 
lation, were we to confine it to the Jews. Christ was indeed 
the end or object of that dispensation of the supreme original 
law of God; to him all its enactments pointed. And it is ex- 
pressly said that "it was added because of transgression, un- 
til the seed should come to whom the promise was made." 
But my text says "that Christ is the end of the law to every 
one that believeth." Of course not to the Jew only, but also 
to the Gentile. 

Therefore, the word law must here be understood as apply- 
ing to that original universal law of God, under the obliga- 
tions of which all rational natures, whether angels or men, 
are held. And here opens upon us, my brethren, a wide and 
extensive range of investigation, in which all our care and 
caution must be put forth, lest we wander from the testimony 
into some flowery but unfruitful field of speculation, while 
we lose sight of the simple truth as it is in Jesus. Let us, 
then, in the 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 113 

II. Second place, inquire into the extent and nature of 
that claim which the law of God has upon us. 

And here some one, I doubt not, is ready to say, if it is 
the law of God there can be no limit to the extent of ita 
claims upon us, but the full obedience it requires. True, my 
hearers, and would to God we were all more under the influ- 
ence of this solemn truth than we are. But as the Antino- 
mian will tell you that he is freed from the law, that being 
dead in which he was held; as the Solifidian will wrest the 
Scriptures in support of a banner of faith; as the self-righteous 
moralist will sneer at faith, that he may establish his own 
righteousness; and as the great crowd of thoughtless sinners 
forget that there is a God to serve, a law to keep, and a judg- 
ment to meet, therefore it may not be unprofitable to consider 
in its particulars, what has so direct a bearing upon the edi- 
fication to be drawn from my text. For Christ i6 only valued 
as we see and feel our need of him. 

That God placed man, at his creation, under the law, as a 
covenant of life — that he broke it, and thereby incurred for 
himself and all his posterity, not only the loss of present 
blessings, but the penalty of death, with all the other miseries 
which the curse inflicted, we know and feel, my brethren, 
by the prevalence of sin and death in this poor world; and it 
is surely of the first importance to ascertain whether and to 
what extent we are bound by this law, and by what means we 
may be able to fulfil its conditions and escape its penalties. 

The question then is — is this law in force under the gos- 
pel? To which I answer, that we read of no repeal — that, 
from the nature of God, no such repeal could take place; and 
to the objection that the law of faith revealed in the gospel 
made void or rendered useless the original law of God, St. 
Paul replies, that it did the very reverse, for that it estab- 
lished the law. And from the words of my text this conclu- 
sion is strengthened; for if Christ is the end of the law to be- 
lievers, so long as there are believers there must be that law 
to them of which he is the end. 

How then, it may be asked, are we to understand and re- 
concile the many passages of Scripture which sound as if the 
law was superseded by the gospel? To this I answer, that in 
such places either the law ceremonial is meant, which was 



114 



CHKIST THE END OF THE LAW. 



clearly annulled by the coming of Christ, all its shadows be- 
ing found in him as the substance; or the law itself, not as a 
law, but as a condition of justification and title to eternal life 
by the righteousness thereof. As the supreme law of God, 
partaking of his holy nature and binding heaven and earth, 
it is unchangeable, and holy, and just, and good; "and not 
one jot or one tittle," says our Lokd, "shall pass from the 
law till all be fulfilled." But as a ground or condition of 
justification, which can only be by its perfect fulfilment, it 
has become impossible to fallen creatures; for to such "by 
the law is the knowledge of sin," and not the means of sal- 
vation. Wherefore, St. Paul argues, that "verily, if there 
could have been a law given which could have given life, 
then should righteousness have been by the law." 

But, if unrepealed, it must yet be in force as a rule of life 
to us in its full extent; and this, my brethren, is our actual 
condition, and the very doctrine, and the only doctrine, which 
gives to the dispensation of the gospel its gracious and mer- 
ciful character; to the gift of Jesus Christ its infinite pre- 
ciousness; and to the love of God in the redemption of fallen 
man, that unsearchable quality of wisdom and knowledge 
which, while, the purity and dignity of his holy law was mag- 
nified, and his original purpose in creating man for his glory 
in intained against sin, death, and hell, could thus cause 
mercy and truth to meet together, and the glorious perfec- 
tions of the Creator to harmonize with the imperfections of 
the creature. 

To suppose, as some do, from insulated passages of Scrip- 
ture, and from the impossibility that fallen sinful creatures 
should fulfil its exact and holy requirements, that therefore 
it is a dead letter, is to deceive our own souls fatally, and to 
upturn the very foundations of Christianity. For the grace 
of the gospel is constructed only on the claims of the law and 
our inability to discharge them. On the other hand, to assert 
the claims of the law to the perfect obedience it demands, 
and supply the notorious defects in our duty by an arbitrary 
imputation of what another hath done in this respect to cer- 
tain persons considered as elect, is to wrest the Scriptures to 
our uwn destruction, and open a wide door for "confusion 
and i:\ary evil work" to enter in. No, my brethren, to us it 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 115 

is yet said by this holy law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy 
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all 
thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as 
thyself." This royal law the gospel enforces by all the sanc- 
tions which time and eternity can comprehend, and all the 
authority which love manifested by example, and benefits 
conferred on the undeserving, can give to the precept of the 
Sovereign Lawgiver. 

But while the law of God is thus unimpaired in the extent 
of its righteous claims upon us, in the nature and kind of the 
obedience required, it is modified and mitigated by the 
equity and mercy of the lawgiver proclaimed in the gospel. 

To man in his integrity, that is, before his fall, the law 
presented itself in its rightful claim of perfect, unceasing, un- 
einning obedience; and it found him furnished by his wise 
and merciful Creator to discharge all its pure, holy, and life- 
giving demands — no law in his members warring against the 
law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law 
of sin and death- — no corruption of his mind leading him off 
from God, his chief good, after the vain delights of a perish- 
ing world. 

But when sin obtained the mastery over him, banished the 
Holy Spirit from his soul, and perverted and depraved the 
pure and perfect faculties bestowed on him by his Maker, 
then could this pure and holy law no longer be to him a 
covenant of life and peace, but an everlasting bond of fear, 
and wrath, and death. 

"What, then, was to be done? "Was the law of heaven to 
yield and surrender to the law of sin, and the gracious pur- 
pose of God in the creation of man as an instrument of his 
glory to be defeated by the craft and malice of the devil? 
Yet this must have followed but for the resources of that in- 
finite wisdom, mercy, and love, which had provided in the 
eternal counsel of the adorable Three in Deity against this 
foreseen event. Here, then, my friends, rises to our aston- 
ished and admiring view that wonderful appointment in 
which we once more stand for life or death, by the gift of 
Jesus Christ to take our nature upon him, and in the nature 
that sinned to bear the curse and satisfy the justice of the 
broken law — to fulfil its utmost demands upon human nature, 



116 



CHKIST THE END OF THE LAW. 



and, by so doing, to purchase for the sinner a reprieve from 
the sentence of eternal death, a renewal of spiritual life, and 
a day of grace, in which, upon the merciful and possible 
conditions of the gospel, to regain the heaven he had lost. 
"Oh! the deptli of the riches both of the wisdom and know- 
ledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his 
ways past finding out." 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the mediator of this new cove- 
nant, now proclaims to a lost world, that whosoever, believ- 
ing in him as the only begotten Son of God and promised 
Saviour of sinners, shall heartily and truly repent him of his 
former sins, and for the time to come endeavor with all his 
might to obev sincerelv, though not without failures and in- 
firmities, all the commandments of God, shall, through the 
merits of his sufferings and death, have his sincerity accepted 
instead of perfect obedience. This is the condition of the 
gospel covenant, the grace and faith which came by Jesus 
Christ, the reasonable service of reasonable and redeemed 
creatures. This is that righteousness of faith so highly spoken 
of in the Scriptures, and it is so called, because faith in what 
God hath spoken unto us by his Son, is the root or spring of 
that turning to God or conversion from sin to which the gos- 
pel invites us, and which it requires, not only as the con- 
dition of our acceptance, but as the only evidence that we 
really do believe. This is that "righteousness of God without 
the law, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon 
all them that believe," because it is of his appointment, and 
what alone he will accept at the sinner's hands for justifica- 
tion of life. And thus argues the apostle, "Abraham be- 
lieved God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, 
and not to him only, but to us also it shall be counted," or 
allowed, "if we believe on Him who raised up Jesus our 
Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences and 
raised again for our justification." 

III. Thirdly, I am to consider by what means the claims 
of the law upon us are to be satisfied. 

Now these, by the wise and merciful appointment of God, 
can no otherwise be answered than by faith in Christ. 
"What 6hall we do that we might work the works of God?" 
was the question put by the Jews to our Lord, in the days of 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 117 

his flesh. "This is the work of God, that ye believe in him 
whom he hath sent," was the answer of the living word 
which came down from heaven. And this short reply, my 
brethren, contains all that we need either know or practice 
to secure the salvation of our souls, as will appear by con- 
sidering that we are debtors to the law in two accounts; first, 
for the penalty due to our disobedience, and secondly, for 
the renewed obedience we owe to it. 

Coming into the world as sinners, and liable to the curse 
of the broken law, we continue such until by some act on our 
part we resort to the remedy provided for us. And here let 
those who think lightly of or reject infant baptism, consider 
the bearing it has upon this appointment of Christ as the 
end of the law for righteousness both to believing parents 
and their children, its efficacy on original or birth sin, and 
its purpose of bringing into a state of covenant relation with 
God those who have no claim upon him but what springs 
from their relation to Christ. Let them consider this, and 
be no longer led away after inventions of men to debar their 
infants from the mighty benefits conferred on i'heui in this 
ordinance. 

But being actual sinners also in our own persons, the law 
calls for our blood, "for without shedding of blood there is 
no remission," and from this claim the blood of Christ is our 
only refuge, "for God made hi in who knew no sin to be sin 
for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in 
him." But this blood can be obtained or made over to us no 
otherwise than by believing in him as "the Lamb of God 
which taketh away the sins of the world." By faith only 
can we be united to Christ. By our union with him only, 
and as found in him, can the satisfaction he hath made to 
the law be counted or made over to us, and we stand justified 
or acquitted from the claims it has upon us for the penalty 
due to our sins. And O that poor thoughtless sinners would 
consider, that there is but this one way under heaven to pay 
their debt, and that the faith which justifies, to give either 
comfort or assurance, must be as much the subject of con- 
sciousness as the sin which demands an atonement before it 
can be given. 

Secondly, we are debtors to the law under gospel grace for 



US CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 

renewed obedience. And this claim can only be satisfied in 
the renewal of our minds bv the o-race of our Lord Jesus 
CnmsT. In him as our living head, all fullness dwells, and 
from him descend those streams of spiritual strength and 
nourishment which give health and increase to his body, the 
Church, and to every member of it. ''Without him we can 
do nothing." By his Spirit we are born again, by his grace 
we are strengthened, by his wisdom we are enlightened, by 
his providence we are defended and disposed of, and by his 
intercession our sincere though imperfect services find accep- 
tance and reward. Thus "we can do all things through 
Christ which strengthened us," and thus, from first to last, 
"is salvation by grace through faith, not of works, lest any 
man should boast;" and thus are sinners provided b} 7 the 
love of God in Christ Jesus to regain the glory lost by sin, 
but which shall again be revealed in them that believe. O 
that the thousands to whom it is now given to put forth the 
hand of faith, and pluck and eat of the tree of life, would but 
consider where their refusal of the gospel must end; how they 
will be able to meet the claims of the law, and the righteous 
judgment of God upon their sins, and upon this their crying 
sin, the rejection of Christ and him crucified; how they will 
endure the everlasting inflictions of the wrath of God poured 
out upon their souls in all the torments of eternal damnation. 
O bethink you of the unutterable horror and despair that will 
seize upon your souls, when this Jesus whom you now despise 
shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance, the ven- 
geance of the law and of the gospel, on them that know not 
God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
now, while it is called tu-daj', flee to the cross of Christ as 
the only refuge for all who have sinned and come short of the 
glory of God. 

IV. Fourthly, I am to show you what is meant by Christ's 
being the end of the law. 

The common meaning of the word end being liable to mis- 
lead us in the right understanding of this passage of Scrip- 
ture, we must consider that, besides denoting the close or 
conclusion of a thing, it also frequently expresses the object 
or purpose in view, and it is used here in both those mean- 
ings. For, 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 119 1 

First, he was the end or conclusion of the legal dispensation, 
as it is called, or method of religion enjoined upon the Jews T 
which was imposed until the promised seed should come. 
But he was also the end or object to which all its sacrifices 
and expiations pointed, and on whom the devout worshipper 
was directed to fix his faith, as the true sin offering and pro- 
pitiation shadowed out by the temple service; as he also was 
of all the sacrifices and acts of worship enjoined upon men 
from the beginning, as we see exemplified in the case of 
Abel, who was accepted as righteous because he offered by 
faith, or with faith in that great atonement for sin which was 
to be manifested in due time. 

Secondly, as the original purpose or design of the law un- 
der which man was put, was the prevention of sin, and as 
Christ hath put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, there- 
fore, having accomplished what the law could not do, he is 
said to be the end of the law, as having answered its object. 
For thus the apostle argues, "What the law could not do, m 
that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son 
in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in 
the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled 
in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." 

Lastly, as the law required obedience or death, and its 
claims upon us grew out of transgression, therefore, he who 
fulfilled all its demands by the obedience of his life and the 
submission of his death, and did this that he might bring in 
everlasting righteousness, may rightly be said to have, an- 
swered all its purposes, and, therefore, be styled the end of 
the law for righteousness; and thus, my brethren, we may 
discern why and how he is so to everyone that believeth, 
The claims of the law upon us arising only from our sins, and 
the death of Christ having fully satisfied the demands of pe- 
nal justice, a door is opened for mercy to enter in, while the 
law is magnified and honored, so that God can be just and 
the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. And hence we 
learn why faith in Christ is the indispensable condition of 
the new covenant purchased by his blood. By no other means 
can we become parties to this covenant but by a personal 
submission to the law of Christ in the gospel, for un'ess we 
believe it, the gospel is a dead letter. By no other means 



120 CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 

can we escape from the condemnation of the law. — "Cursed 
is every one that continueth not in all things written in the 
law, to do them" — For "he that believeth not is condemned 
already." By no other means can we obtain that grace which 
renews the heart and guides the life to holiness. — u He that 
believeth in me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly 
shall flow rivers of living water." By no other means are 
we reconciled to Gon and adopted as his children. — "Ye are 
all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." By no 
other means than faith in the Son of God can we obtain a 
happy life, a peaceful death, a joyful resurrection, and a glo- 
rious immortality. "I am the resurrection and the life, saith 
the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet 
shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall 
never die." Thus may every believer say with the apostle, 
"I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto 
God; I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not 
I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in 
the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved 
me, and gave himself for me." 

God grant, dear brethren, that we may all make this ap- 
plication of what has been said, and of what this fruitful sub- 
ject may present to our private meditations, and no longer 
live to another, but to him who hath bought us with his own 
blood, and made us kings and priests to God, even his Father; 
never forgetting that though we are indeed dead to the law 
by the body of Christ as a covenant of life, yet we are "not 
without law to God," but "under the law to Christ," even 
the law of faith, which worketh by love, overcomes the world, 
and sits down at the right hand of God, whither Jesus is gone 
before to prepare a place for us, that where he is there we 
may be also, beholding his glory. 

And may the same gracious God grant that these our dear 
friends and connexions present, and all under the sound of 
the gospel who are yet strangers to this Jesus, may be moved 
to lay these solemn truths to heart. May they hear the holy 
law of God requiring their obedience or their blood; and if 
love cannot draw, may the terrors of the Lord drive them to 
the cross of Christ as their only refuge from its claims. Oh! 
my poor fellow sinners, ask yourselves seriously why it is 



CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW. 121 

that tlie glad tidings of the gospel have no charms for you? 
why an offered heaven and a threatened hell have so little 
power to move you from the tents of sin? why a stricken con- 
science is put aside to another opportunity? and you will learn 
that it is through unbelief, and awake, perhaps, to the danger 
of your state. Oh! the wretched condition of that jDerson who 
lives without God in the world, without a Saviour, without 
faith, without hope, without love, exposed to all the claims of 
the law without a shelter from its vengeance — who must come 
to death and judgment with nothing to present to God but a 
body and soul poisoned with sin, and fit only for the society 
of devils and damned spirits. Oh! the misery of the gospel 
sinner! How will the fallen angels mock at him, and glory 
over him, in the great and dreadful day of the Lobd! How 
gladly would they embrace what he makes light of — salva- 
tion provided, righteousness wrought out, a Saviour offered, 
peace given, heaven opened, and glory promised. "Awake 
then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Cheist 
shall give thee light. He is the end of the law for righteous- 
ness to every one that believeth, and no man cometh unto the 
Father but by him; for there is none other name under hea- 
ven given amongst men whereby we must be saved, only the 
came of Jesus Cheist of Nazareth." 



[Vol. 2,— *9.] 



m 



Hi 



SERMON XI. 



CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 



John xv. 5, latter clause. 
For without me ye can do nothing. 

Among the many inventions which men have sought out 
on the subject of religion, or, which is the same thing, on the 
means of obtaining and securing the favor of God, there is 
none more prevalent in the present day, or more ruinous to 
the souls of men, than that of a partial reception of the gospel. 
But few can be found who are hardy enough to reject and 
disclaim it altogether. Though there are some such, yet there 
are multitudes who receive it no farther than to claim for 
their sins the cover of its mercy, while they refuse their hearts 
and lives to its transforming grace and holy requirements. 

But, as it must be evident to all, that this desperate delu- 
sion, which makes Christ the minister of sin, could have no 
place were the gospel, with its awful discoveries and merciful 
provisions, more carefully considered, I trust it will answer 
my purpose for your edification, so to apply the words of my 
text as to show the folly and insufficiency of a partial recep- 
tion of Christ and his message — 

First, to man as a fallen sinner; and, 

Secondly, to the same creature as a penitent believer. This 
I shall endeavor, with God's help, to lay plainly before you; 
and, then, 

Conclude with an application of the whole. 

"For without me ye can do nothing." 

I. First, I am to apply these words to man as a fallen sinner. 

To do this to any advantage, we must consider both the 
condition itself and its consequences — a train of thought, my 
hearers, too seldom permitted to occupy the meditations ei- 
ther of the more serious or the more thoughtless portion of 
those who are, nevertheless, the subjects of this tremendous 



124 CHKIST ALL IN ALL. 

ruin, and the objects of that rich redeeming love whereby its 
desolations are stayed and its miseries may be averted. 

The state of man, as a fallen sinner, is that of alienation 
from God, condemnation to eternal death for the violation of 
his holy law, without the means of escape or the hope of de- 
liverance by any thing in himself. And the consequences of 
this state are, spiritual death, or the loss of that faculty of the 
soul by which God is apprehended as the chief good, loved 
supremely, relied upon unreservedly, and obeyed implicitly; 
the prevalence of the animal nature, or flesh, as it is called in 
Scripture, whereby the original order of the affections and 
desires is perverted, so that instead of being in subjection to 
the law of the mind, the mind or reason of the man is become 
subservient to the law in the members; and the exposure, 
without remedy, to natural evil, in pain, sickness, decay, and 
death of the body — with fear, alarm, disappointment, sorrow, 
and suffering, both of mind and body, as the bitter fruit of 
that heavy curse which sin has entailed upon this earth, and 
upon all its inhabitants. 

This is the true condition of fallen man when considered 
as unredeemed, and is indispensable to any rational compre- 
hension of the actual condition of mankind, and of their ob- 
ligations and duties under the advantages of revealed religion 
and instituted means of grace. It is also his condition as re- 
deemed, with this difference, that what in the one case was 
absolute and irrecoverable by man himself, is now, by the 
undertaking of the Lokd Jesus Christ as man's representa- 
tive, become conditional and recoverable. The spiritual 
death consequent on the first transgression, and which pre- 
cluded the possibility of trial, is removed by the restored 
competency of moral beings to apprehend the truth of their 
condition, and to apply the means provided for their restora- 
tion to the favor of God and to eternal life, through the grace 
given them in Christ Jesus. And thus St. Paul argues in 
his epistle to the Eomans — -"As by the offence of one, judg- 
ment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the 
righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men, unto 
justification of life." And again, in his epistle to Titus — 
u The grace of God which bringeth salvation, hath appeared 
to all men." Now, this free gift, and measure of divine grace, 



CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 125 

are equally the purchase of the death of Christ, by virtue of 
which the gospel is preached to us, and we are rendered 
capable of believing its truth, embracing its promises, obey- 
ing its precepts, and inheriting its reward. 

Of this new state, Jesus Christ, as the purchaser and pro- 
curer, is constituted the Lord and king. "It is the kingdom 
of God's dear Son," as the apostle expresses it. Whatever 
relates to its government and administration is delegated to 
him. "God hath put all things under his feet, and gave him 
to be head over all things to the Church, in which Christ 
ruleth as a son over his own house; angels, and authorities, 
and principalities, and powers, being made subject unto him." 
And all that concerns its close and consummation, is to be 
transacted by him in person. — "The Father judgeth no man, 
but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, and hath 
given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is 
the Son of man. For we must all stand before the judgment 
seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to the 
deeds done in this body, whether they be good or whether 
they be evil." With the deepest truth, therefore, is it said 
in my text, "Without me ye can do nothing." 

Would fallen man, then, blind and ignorant as he is in 
himself, know the truth of his actual condition, he must 
come to Jesus Christ, the word and the wisdom of God, "a 
light of the Gentiles to open the blind eyes, to bring out the 
prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out 
of the prison house." No where else can certainty and satis- 
faction be obtained on those points which are beyond the 
range of his experience and observation. ■ 

Would fallen man profit by the knowledge thus revealed 
from Heaven, he must come to Jesus Christ, that the Spirit 
of life may quicken him to apprehend the saving truths of 
the gospel. "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. 
The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they 
are life," says our blessed Lord. 

Would fallen ntan be delivered from the condemnation 
under which he is held by reason of original sin, he must 
come to Jesus Christ, "who hath redeemed us from the curse 
of the law, being made a curse for us." 

Would he be released from the guilt of his own personal 



126 CHEIST ALL IN ALL. 

sins, he must come to Jesus Chkist, "whom God hath set 
forth to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world; in 
whom we have redemption through his blood, even the for- 
giveness of sins." 

"Would fallen man be quickened into spiritual life, he must 
come to Jesus Christ, who alone baptizeth with the Holy 
Ghost. Would he be reconciled to God and translated into 
the kingdom of his dear Son, he must come to Jesus Christ, 
"who hath made peace by the blood of his cross — in whom 
God was reconciling the world to himself," by whom only 
"we have access to the Father." 

And would fallen man be furnished for this new relation 
to God, and for the duties and the hopes which belong to it, 
he must come to Jesus Christ, the prophet, the priest, and 
the king of this gracious dispensation of mercy and love. 
For "in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and know- 
ledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should 
dwell, of whose fulness we have all received," and who tells 
us in my text "without me ye can do nothing." 

Thus indispensable, my dear hearers, is the Lord Jesus 
Christ, to all spiritual attainment in fallen man. As he in- 
terposed by the will of God between the sentence of the law 
and its infliction on the first transgressors, and by consenting 
to suffer the penalty in their stead obtained a reprieve for 
them, so did he also obtain for them the means of recovery 
and salvation; and in due time came forth from the Father, 
to proclaim the glad tidings to the world, to expiate the guilt 
of sin by the sacrifice of the cross, and by the high discoveries 
of the gospel to draw mankind to that eternal life which is 
only to be found in him. But to be found it must be sought, 
as the one thing needful, as the main concern of this short 
and uncertain state of being. For salvation is the fate of no 
man's nature, but the purchased reward of faith and renewed 
obedience to the law of life in the gospel. As the undertaking- 
of the Son of God restored the moral competency of human 
nature, that competency must be put forth by each individ- 
ual, according to the conditions of that dispensation of the 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, under which it pleases God 
to call him into being. Under the light of the gospel, more 
especially, is this duty indispensably required of all who 



CHRIST ALL IN ALL. ll'T 

would be saved; Christ and the power of his grace are freely 
offered to all to whom the gospel is preached — but to be ob- 
tained men must come to Christ according to the directions 
of the gospel. They must strive to enter in at the strait gate. 
by a hearty repentance and forsaking all sin, and to walk in 
the narrow way of holy obedience to the commands and ex- 
ample of Christ. For the gospel does not act like a charm. 
nor yet will Christ be found the minister of sin, by owning 
those who "call him Lord, yet do not the things which lie 
jsays." And on so weighty a concern as salvation, carelessness 
and unconcern are nothing short of contempt of God, and if 
persisted in must be followed by the gnawings of the worm 
that never dies, by the torments of the fire that never shall 
be quenched. From this endless misery Christ alone can 
save you, my dear hearers; and he can and will save you u<< 
otherwise than as he hath openly proclaimed in his word. 
"Awake then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, 
and Christ shall give thee light." There is yet place for re- 
pentance; the sparing mercy of God yet waits for you, and 
that same Jesus who this day tells you, "without me ye can 
do nothing," also proclaims, "him that cometh unto me I will 
in no wise cast out." 

But it is not only as the purchaser of a day of reprieve and 
grace to fallen man, that Jesus Christ is thus all important. 
He is the finisher as well as the author of our faith and hope. 
This he represents to us in the verse immediately before my 
text, by the figure of a vine and its branches. "As the branch 
cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no 
more can ye, except ye abide in me." "I am the vine, ye 
are the branches. He that abideth in me the same brinsreth 
forth much fruit — for without me ye can do nothing." 

Now though these words were spoken primarily to and of 
his apostles, and had an application to them, and yet have 
to those who come after them in the ministry of the gospel, 
distinct from what they have to men in general, yet in then- 
plain and obvious meaning they refer to all who claim an 
interest in the gospel. As Christ is the head of the body, 
and Christians are every one members in particular, their 
union with him and abiding in him is just as essential for 



128 CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 

the supply of spiritual life and motion, as that of the mem- 
bers with the natural body, or of the branches with the vine. 

But the entertainment of sin severs this union with Christ, 
and destroys our abiding in him; which can no otherwise be 
restored than by a true and effectual repentance. And as 
the grace of repentance is obtained for fallen creatures by 
the undertaking of the Son of God, and is accepted only for 
his sake, and through faith in him, a consideration of the 
particulars which must unite to render repentance and faith 
available to the pardon of sin, will show, as was proposed 
in the 

II. Second place, the absolute importance of the Lord 
Jesus Christ to the hope of the penitent sinner. 

Sin is an offence against Almighty God, by the transgres- 
sion of his positive command, and for which eternal death is 
announced as the just punishment. 

Conviction of sin is the sense of guilt and condemnation 
thereby incurred, impressed upon the heart by the Holy 
Ghost. 

Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin, wrought in the soul 
by the same Holy Spirit, and evidenced by forsaking sin 
and by earnest desire of pardon and reconciliation with God, 
expressed in fervent and continued prayer and supplication. 

But the Holy Ghost, with all his operations in and upon 
the hearts of men for salvation, is the purchase of the death 
of Christ. Hence there is neither conviction of sin, nor re- 
pentance for sin, nor faith to apprehend its danger, nor de- 
liverance from its condemnation, without Christ, without an 
entire Saviour, the Alpha and the Omega of man's salvation. 

What satisfaction can the convinced sinner make to the 
infinite justice of Almighty God, for those violations of his 
holy law of which he feels and owns himself guilty? Re* 
pentance is not atonement, nor can amended life, were either 
of them possible without the grace given us in Christ Jesus, 
undo past guilt and remove incurred condemnation. "With* 
out shedding of blood there is no remission." But the sin- 
ner's own blood is demanded by the law, not as an expia- 
tion but as a penalty. "What resort is there, then, but to him 
■"who is exalted a prince and a Saviour to give repentance to 
Israel, and remission of sins?" Where can the sinner find an. 



CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 129 

atonement but in that blood which was poured out upon the 
cross, as a propitiation and full satisfaction to the divine jus- 
tice for the sins of the whole world? This is the only expia- 
tion for the guilt of sin worthy for man to offer or for God to 
accept. It is the only substitute for the sinner's own blood, 
forfeited to the justice of God; and the revealed atonement 
to which the Holt Spirit directs the penitent believer, ena- 
bling him to apply it to himself personally, as the meritorious 
ground of his forgiveness and acceptance with God. "Being 
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord 
Jesus Christ." 

But not only in what is outward and visible in the regula- 
tion of the life, but in the mightier work of renewing the 
heart and purifying it from the corruptions which sin hath 
engendered, of transforming the soul to the image of its holy 
Creator, and of sanctifying the whole creature to God, is it 
evident that "without Christ we can do nothing." 

We have no access to the heart, my dear hearers, not even 
to discern its desperate wickedness and estrangement from 
God, far less to change its affections and renew its qualities, 
without light from heaven. This is the work of the great 
physician of souls, and only by following his prescriptions 
can its original health be restored. To call off the affections 
from the perishing vanities of time, to elevate them to holy 
and heavenly desires, and fix them on God as the chief good, 
is no human work; yet it is set before us as the condition on 
which eternal life depends. Without Christ, then, my 
friends, what can we do; without his Holt Spirit to work 
this mighty change, to create in us a new heart, and renew 
a right spirit within us, what hope of success? "Who can 
bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" O that those who 
go about to establish their own righteousness, and contract 
religion to the meagre morality of external decency and de- 
corum of conduct, would but consider this; that the Pharisees 
of the gospel, who have a form of godliness but deny the 
power thereof, would bring their accommodations of religion 
to the will of the flesh, to the experience of a new principle 
wrought in the soul by the Spirit of Christ! Then they 
might see and understand the application of motives to the 
conduct of moral beings; how the very same actions in dif- 



130 CHEIST ALL IN ALL. 

ferent persons are, nevertheless, in the sight of God, of oppo- 
site qualities. He looketh on the heart, my "brethren, and 
can accept nothing from fallen creatures but what springs 
from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, purifying it and 
working by love. Can a muddy fountain send forth pure 
water? No, my hearers? How, then, can the unrenewed 
heart bring forth fruit unto God. "Can the Ethiopian change 
his skin or the leopard his spots?" No, my friends, neither 
can the fallen sinner change his nature or undo his guilt. 
Come, then, to Jesus Christ, that what without him ye can- 
not do, may by his grace be accomplished. This is the 
turning point of this great salvation. As none but the sick 
need the physician, so until we feel that there is no health in 
us — until we learn the plague of our own hearts, and are 
savingly convinced of the ruined helplessness of our sinful 
nature — there is no form or comeliness in Jesus Christ that 
we should desire him. We neither understand or feel, that 
the whole sufficiency of fallen sinners is of God; that from 
first to last we are saved by grace, and that "without Christ 
we can do nothing." 

As the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ are thus 
indispensable to quicken us to repentance and faith, and the 
virtue of his blood shed for us alone available to procure the 
pardon of sin, they are no less essential to render all that we 
subsequently do in the way of duty acceptable to God. 

Our repentance and faith, our love and obedience, our 
prayers and praises, our worship and service, are in them- 
selves imperfect and unworthy of that pure and holy Being 
in whose sight the heavens are not clean, and who charges 
even his angels with folly. The very holiest of our duties 
have in them a seasoning of sin, my brethren, and the most 
earnest of our endeavors are coupled with infirmity both of 
purpose and performance. Here, then, we may realize the 
absolute importance to us of that Jesus, who not only pro- 
cured a day and means of grace for sinners, but who ever 
liveth to make intercession for them; to present their prayers 
and praises before the throne of God; to render their sincere 
though imperfect services acceptable in the eye of purity and 
holiness, and as their great High Priest to offer up continu- 
ally in the presence of God, in behalf of his people, the meri- 



CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 131 

torious righteousness and perfect obedience of his sinless life, 
the humiliation of his passion, and the atonement of his death, 
as the ground of their faith and hope of the favor of God and 
eternal life. 

Nor is this all, my brethren. When the life of faith has 
carried the Christian victorious through the trials of this mor- 
tal pilgrimage, the grave, nevertheless, awaits him, and he 
must receive the wages due to sin, in the stroke of death. 
Here, then, if no where else, if never before, must man per- 
ceive and feel his own impotency, must acknowledge his ut- 
most strength to be but corruption. His prospects all closed, 
his expectations cut off, his active powers mouldered into 
dust, what would the hope of even the righteous be worth, 
but for Jesus Christ? Can human power burst the prison 
of the grave and recall the dead to life? No. The voice of 
the Son of God alone is competent to this Almighty work; 
"and the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall 
hear his voice and shall come forth, they that have done 
good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done 
evil unto the resurrection of damnation." This is what gives 
such an awful impression to the hour of our dissolution, my 
hearers. This is what gives to the grace and hope of the 
gospel their infinite value, and to the name of Jesus Christ 
its high pre-eminence above every name in heaven and on 
earth. "He tasted death for every man, that through death 
he might destroy him who had the power of death." He 
rose from the dead to give assurance unto all men, that they 
should not be holden of death. He ascended up into heaven 
the first-born of many brethren, whither he has gone before 
to prepare a place for his faithful followers. And he will 
come again, in the glory of his Father, with the retinue of 
heaven, to sit in judgment on his people and on the world. 

Then will be seen the full extent of his power, and then 
will be felt the full value of that union with him which is 
now to be obtained on the conditions of the gospel, and, in- 
cluding as it does, by the appointment of God, the wisdom, 
righteousness, sanctifi cation, and redemption of obedient be- 
lievers, will constitute their title to a place at his right hand. 
Then will be realized the deep importance of confessing him. 
before men, both with the lips and with the life. Then shall 



132 CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 

be perceired the unspeakable advantage of Christian privi- 
leges, however lightly they are now esteemed by the thou- 
sands who disdainfully cast them behind their backs, and 
are wilfully strangers to their use. Then will these now de- 
spised things be found the power of God unto salvation, 
through faith working by love; and a preached gospel, with 
its high discoveries, its precious promises, its life-giving hope, 
and its saving sacraments, become by neglect the savour of 
death in them that perish, will deepen torment with the never 
ceasing but useless regret that they might have escaped, but 
they would not. 

Oh, what a tormenting thought it will be — and never to 
pass into forgetfulness, my hearers — that during our day of 
grace we turned a deaf ear to the counsel of God, a hard heart 
to the love of Christ, and stifled the convictions of his Holy 
Sperit; that we never received because we Would not ask; 
that we never found because we would not seek; that the 
door of mercy is shut against us for ever because while it 
stood open to receive us we refused to enter in; that our blood 
is now demanded by the righteous law of God because we 
trampled under foot the blood of Christ, and, though sinners 
in nature and practice, dared to meet God in judgment, with- 
out the shield of the Kedeemer s merits sought and obtained 
by faith. 

Thus have I shown you, my brethren and hearers, though 
in a very brief and contracted manner, compared with the 
extent of the subject, that in our main concern, the salvation 
of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ is all in all; that, as the 
procuring cause and sustaining power of all spiritual life, he 
is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last; that, from 
the first seed of divine grace implanted in the heart, to the 
aM-ful coBBTimmatioB of "Come ye blessed," or, "Depart ye 
cursed," without him we can do nothing. 

The application, then, or improvement, of what has been 
said, refers to the personal condition of all present, as if about 
to appear before, God, and will be profitable to you, my 
hearers, only as this is realized. The wonderful and effectual 
provision for your salvation, revealed in the gospel, hath 
surrounded you from infancy to the present moment; the 
trutlis connected with it have been repeatedly pressed upon 



CHBIST ALL IN" ALL. 133 

your consciences; and the experience of your own hearts 
must have confirmed the testimony of revelation, to the fal- 
len, depraved Condition of human nature, and the consequent 
alienation from God of every sinful creature. Now is this 
to continue? I speak to those who are careless of and un- 
connected with religion — alas! that they should be the great 
majority in every Christian land — is this state of desperate 
and wilful opposition to God to be persisted in? If not — and 
I trust that this is the better thought which sometimes pre- 
sents its awakenings to your consciences, — 'wherefore is it not 
at once acted upon? If the power of sin over you now is so 
great, and the love of sin in you so strong, as to overrule the 
command of God and the reason of your own minds, will its 
influence be weakened by indulgence, or its mastery be more 
easily shaken off when confirmed by habit? Who among you 
has not the testimony in his own experience, confirming that 
of St. Paul, to the power and prevalence of the carnal mind? 
"To will is present with me, but how to perform that which 
is good I find not; for the good that I would I do not, but the 
evil which I would not that I do." "For I delight in the law 
of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my 
members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing 
me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" 
— and who is not hereby taught the practical lesson, that if 
he would be saved he must be delivered "from the body of 
his death?" 

And shall it speak so plain and come so close to your con- 
sciences, only to be driven away with the thousands of good 
resolutions, and yet deferred amendments of life, which the 
law of sin has already triumphed over? God forbid, my dear 
hearers. Rather let counsel be taken from past weakness, 
and courage be derived from this precious gift of the love of 
God yet waiting upon you, to come to Christ. Let the sin 
that so easily besets you, that you have tried once and again 
to conquer, but have failed; let the frequent resolve to begin 
a Christian life, which has vanished before the temptations 
of the world like the morning cloud and the early dew, prove 
to you, that in your own strength you can do nothing; and 
bring you, with purpose of heart, to the sure and sufficient 
friend of the weary and heavy laden sinner, in the Loed 



134 CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 

Jesus Cheist, who came that a race of sinners might have 
life, and that they might have it more abundantly; who re- 
deemed them to God by his own blood, that he might redeem 
them from all iniquity by the power of his grace; and who 
assures them, in my text, that without him they can do no- 
thing. 

To follow the world, to glitter amidst the giddy whirl of 
its intoxicating vanities, to catch its vain applause, and to 
reap its still more vain reward, may be accomplished perhaps 
without Christ; and the angels are weeping over the thou- 
sands of redeemed and warned immortals, who make no bet- 
ter use of the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ. 
But to overcome the world, to withstand its allurements, to 
triumph alike over its smiles and its frowns, and so to use as 
not abusing the accommodations and enjoyments which are 
left amidst the sin-blasted ruins of its once happier condition 
— who of himself, my ^ brethren, is sufficient for this work? 
Yet, if heaven is our hope on the ground of revealed promises, 
this must be accomplished in all who would see God. The 
hold which the world has upon our affections must be loosed, 
the power it possesses over our desires must be broken, and 
the grovelling inclinations of our fallen nature elevated to 
more substantial and enduring good than this transitory ex- 
istence can supply. And whence is this to come but from 
above? And how is this to be obtained but through the Lord 
Jesus Christ, "who for the joy that was set before him, en- 
dured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at 
the right hand of the throne of God, having left us an ex- 
ample that we should follow his steps." "If any man will 
come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross 
daily and follow me." "In the world ye shall have tribula- 
tion, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." 

Reason can strike the balance betwixt time and eternity, 
and master the calculation which dethrones the world and the 
things that are in it. But it cannot change the heart and 
turn the longings of the soul to God, the only good. Expe- 
rience can certify, how weak and worthless the highest worldly 
delights are, to satisfy the soul and confer solid peace and 
lasting happiness; but it cannot till the aching void which 
this discovery makes, or teach a new and living way to life. 



CHRIST ALL IN ALL. 135 

and bliss. These must come from God the Holt Ghost, 
through the merits and intercession of the great High Priest. 
These must be sought and wrestled for in fervent, persever- 
ing prayer, in watchful self-denial, in confiding reliance that 
he who hath called us to the knowledge of this grace will not 
withhold his mercies from the sin-sick soul, but will bless the 
endeavors of all who come unto God by him. 

""Without me ye can do nothing." Truth, Lord! And 
may thy blessing write it in every heart, thy grace make it 
triumphant over all opposition, and thy power bring a will- 
ing and obedient people to live by the faith of the Son of God. 



SERMON XII. 

ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRI8T* 



Mkah vi. 6. 
Wh«rewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? 

Reflections of a very impressive and practical character 
are presented to every serious mind by tliis passage of Scrip- 
ture, and can hardly fail, I should think, at least for the 
moment, to prompt a similar inquiry even to the more 
thoughtless and indifferent, on the commanding interest of 
their relation to God and expectations from him. ISTo senti- 
ment is more universal, I believe, than that of the homage 
due to the Supreme Being; no duty more important than to 
ascertain in what manner that homage is to be rendered; and 
when, if we carry out our sense of accountability to the end, 
we shall all stand before our Judge, language is insufficient 
to describe the misery which must follow the neglect of so 
plain an obligation. 

It is an overwhelming thought, my brethren, to imagine a 
dependent, ignorant, and sinful being, like man, about to ap- 
proach the glorious majesty, resplendent light, and unspotted 
holiness of Almighty God; to picture to ourselves the con- 
flicting emotions which throb around his heart, the awful 
anticipations which absorb his thoughts, and the agonizing 
suspense which weighs down his spirit, under the fearful 
forecast of an issue which involves eternity. But it is a wise 
and a profitable exercise of the mind, my hearers, for it is an 
interview which we have all to meet, and on our preparation 
for it more will depend than can be conceived or spoken of. 

The words of my text do not, indeed, refer directly to the 
concluding scene of our trial and probation, but they include 
it, as the point to which all present intercourse with God 
should be directed, as the end in which all the means now 
made use of must terminate. I have, therefore, selected 
them, as calculated to engage your thoughts in a profitable 
[Vol. 2,— *10.] 



138 ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 

and appropriate course of meditation, to lead you to a serious- 
scrutiny and careful examination of your own hearts, as to 
the grounds on which your religious duties, both private and 
public, are performed, as to the constancy and devotion with 
which they are followed, and as to the effect thereby pro- 
duced on the heart and on the life. These form at all times 
a sure test of religious condition, and if duly attended to, will 
teach you the advantage of frequently inquiring, "Where- 
with shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the 
high God." I shall, therefore, consider them, 

I. First, as a source of appropriate and profitable meditation. 

Seasons of retirement and recollection are indispensable to 
the Christian — periods of serious thought and devout en- 
gagement of the heart, when the cares and duties of the world 
are intermitted, and its occupations give place to the higher 
occupation of acquainting ourselves with God, and of com- 
muning with our own spirit. Without this salutary practice, 
it may safely be affirmed, that religious impressions cannot 
continue, but will decline into mere formality, and deliver us- 
lack to the world in a worse condition than when we for- 
sook its follies. If the unclean spirit hath really been cast 
out, yet if his former habitation continue empty, however 
well it may be garnished with outward profession, our 
Saviour himself gives the warning, that he will return with 
a reinforcement, and take up his abode more securely than 
before. 

Hence it would appear, that religious impression, to be 
profitable, must be encouraged by our own exertion, must be 
strengthened by reading and meditation, deepened by prayer 
and self-examination, and confirmed by the practice of the 
duties of religion; and to all these, seasons of retirement and 
devout recollection are essential. For the mind can hardlv 
engage in religious self-examination, or in the meditation of 
holy things, when exposed to interruption. Neither can it 
enter upon this duty without seriousness of spirit, without 
some solemn impression of God, of eternity, of our interest 
in him, and of our condition as respects his known will, and 
the appointments of his grace for our salvation. Now, to all 
this, the thought, "wherewith shall I come before the Lord," 
must, either directly or indirectly, be previous. For it ia the 



ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 139 

sense of seclusion with God, of his presence who reads the 
heart. It is the feeling sense of our own vileness and sinful- 
ness, when compared with his perfect purity and holiness, 
and of his infinite goodness in providing for our recovery, 
that solemnizes the spirit and shuts out inferior things. So 
that whether we read his word, or meditate on the discove- 
ries of his wisdom and mercy to his creatures, or recall his 
providences to ourselves — whether we scan the frame of our 
own spirit, or bring our sins and omissions of duty to account 
— whether we are humbled in penitence or exalted in praise 
God presides over the thoughts and occupies the workings of 
the heart. 

According, then, to the frequency and solemnity with 
which such seasons are sought for and improved, may Chris- 
tians look for the power and comfort of religion to increase 
with them — may they expect the strength of temptation to 
decline, the power of sin to be broken, and the practice of 
righteousness to be confirmed. And according to the sincerity 
and fervor with which they persevere in thus frequently shut- 
ting out the world that they may hold converse with God, 
will the world be overcome, and the comfort of hope and the 
assurance of faith be realized. For in religion, as, in other 
things, it is practice that makes perfect; and progress in the 
school of Christ is regulated by the same law, which, in all 
other pursuits, limits attainment by endeavor, and bestows 
advancement according to proficiency. "Unto him that hath, 
shall be given, and he shall have more abundance," is the 
encouraging declaration which our gracious master holds out 
to his disciples to industry and perseverance in their high 
calling, while he warns the slothful and the negligent, that 
"from him that hath not, shall be taken away, even that 
which he hath." 

II. Secondly, I wiU consider the text as prompting exami- 
nation as to the grounds on which your religious duties, both 
private and public, are performed. 

As religion is the reasonable service of rational beings, all 
who pretend to it should consider carefully whereon it is 
founded, and on what grounds their particular views of its 
doctrines and practice of its duties are supported, by the 
plain precepts of God's most holy word, "Wherewith shall 






140 ACCES8 TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 

I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the higli 
God," is an inquiry which, from the nature of things, must 
precede all religious duty on the part of mankind, and must 
ever form an important subject of consideration to a serious 
mind. But as the answer can be derived from no other source 
than God himself, to his true and faithful word only can we 
look with certainty for information and direction. Now, my 
brethren, this is an advantage which we possess as Christians, 
not as men, and which, as Christians, we all have to account 
for. And I would to God, that both as men and Christians, 
we were more alive to our privileges and obligations, under 
the light of revealed truth. 

That we have no means independent of revelation of know- 
ing the will of God concerning us, and of determining satisfac- 
torily in what manner he is to be worshipped and wherewithal 
rendered propitious and favorable to his creatures, is a truth 
proved to us by the enormous and disgusting superstitions 
of Heathen lands, both ancient and modern. 

The impression is universal and indelible, that man owes 
reverence and worship to his Creator. So powerful is the 
sentiment, that it must, in some way, be satisfied. Yet so 
dense is the cloud which sin has spread over the world, that 
where God hath not interposed to give light, men have only 
bewildered themselves in seeking out many inventions, not 
one of which was worthy of the object nor consistent with 
enlightened reason, and (it is well worth your notice, because 
conclusive against the infidel claim for the sufficiency of hu- 
man reason in matters of religion) that where this faculty was 
most cultivated, and had advanced the farthest in other 
sciences, among Heathen nations the science of religion was 
at the lowest ebb, and the ritual of its worship proportionally 
impure, bloody, and abhorrent. 

In thus drawing your attention, my brethren, to the un- 
speakable advantage you possess in the light of life, and to the 
sure ground from thence on which you may advance with a 
firm faith to the performance of every religious duty, I wish 
it to be felt as a privilege for which no adequate return can 
ever be made — as a distinction from God which must be 
cherished and improved to the high and holy purposes for 
which it is conferred; and that it may be thus felt and cherish- 
ed, mark the contrast which my text suggests. 






ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 141 

A Heathen inquires, "Wherewith shall I come before the 
Lord?" But there is none to answer save a senseless and 
bloody superstition, scorned even by the clouded understand- 
ing of its own ministers. The glories of the firmament, the 
grandeur of the universe, prompt him to "bow himself before 
the high God" their Maker; but there is no voice to tell him 
with what offerings to come into his courts — no hand to point 
to the propitiation made upon the cross for human guilt — no 
message of love and mercy, displaying in its highest exercise 
the heavenly feeling of compassion towards a race of sinners. 
Under the silence of nature, as to what man can perform here 
or hope for hereafter, reason becomes bewildered in the maze 
of conjecture, and, wandering farther and farther into its own 
darkness, dishonors God and debases his fairest work with im- 
purity, impiety, and crime. 

How different, my brethren, is the condition of the same 
being under the light of the gospel! He, too, asks, "Where- 
with shall I come before the Lord?" and, lo! the page of in- 
spiration stands ready to satisfy his most anxious wish. 
Where the book of nature closes, the book of God takes up 
the wondrous tale, and by unveiling Deity to his adoring 
creature, calls forth the faculty of reason to its noblest use. 
Every step in the grand discovery gives increasing light, 
until "God manifest in the flesh" provides for every want, 
supplies every disability, and fulfils every wish which hu- 
manity can feel, or deplore, or long for. "Wherewith shall 
I come before the Lord?" "He hath showed thee, O man, 
what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God require of 
thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly 
with thy Gon?" "Wherewith shall I bow myself before the 
high God?" He hath showed thee, O Christian, how to 
render acceptable service. — "I am the way, the truth, and the 
life," says the Son of God. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and thou shalt be saved." "Repent and believe the gospel." 
Such is the solid and unshaken foundation which the be- 
liever occupies as the ground of all his religious duties. To 
him there is no uncertainty, no conjecture, no doubt in draw- 
ing near to God. Light has come into the world, and he 
walks in the light. A new and living way is opened to the 
presence of God. Life and immortality are brought to light 



142 ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 

by the gospel. A fountain is opened for sin and for unclean- 
ness. Grace is given to renew his nature, and eternal life 
promised to faith and obedience. These are the glorious and 
gracious purchase of the love of Christ, and all these, my 
brethren, are prompted to your meditations by my text. God 
grant that they may stir you up and strengthen you, not only 
to meditate but to act, under a more lively sense of his rich 
redeeming love, a deeper penitence, and a more active faith. 
But let it not be overlooked, I beseech you, that as all you 
are favored with is the appointment and gift of God for your 
good, that good is not to be expected disjoined from the 
means. Eevealed religion and instituted means of grace are 
not the creatures of human caprice or convenience; and what- 
ever may be conceded to honest ignorance or sincere mistake 
in religious duty, it is a concession on the part of man only 
— a conjecture of human reason, and not a declaration of the 
word of God. And this I say, not only to enforce the duty 
suggested by the text, but to caution you, my brethren, 
against the prominent delusion of being wise in holy things 
above what is written, wresting the Scriptures to your own 
destruction. As the noblest work of creation, the image of 
his Maker, man hath dominion over all terrestrial things. 
He may construct systems of philosophy or policy, and alter 
and amend or abrogate them at his convenience. He may 
change the face of nature, and improve and beautify it to 
suit the taste of an ever varying fancy; but religion is fenced 
about with the sanctity of heaven from such profane intru- 
sion. He touches the ark at his eternal peril — he departs 
from revealed direction at the risk of threatened delusion. 
Under every dispensation, religion lias come perfect and 
complete from its author. It admits of but one improvement 
at the hand of man, and that is, faith and obedience, in a 
conversation such as becometh the gospel of Christ. 

III. Thirdly, the text forms a proper ground of meditation 
as to the constancy and devotion with which your religious 
duties are followed. 

As the influence of religion upon the human heart is pro- 
gressive, and dependent on the care and diligence where- 
with its divine impressions are cultivated, Christians should 
be very watchful over themselves in this respect. Knowing 



ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 143 

as they do, the opposition of their fallen nature, the corrup- 
tion of their hearts, and the tendency of wordly occupation 
to beget remissness, and lead them insensibly, almost, to a 
lukewarm formality, frequent self-examination is not only 
one of the most necessary, but one of the most profitable ex- 
ercises in which the Christian can engage. The person who 
most frequently takes himself to task as respects God, will 
most frequently, also, be drawn to the duty of prayer. And 
the person who most carefully tries his religious condition by 
the devout affections which his heart entertains, will be most 
devotional, that is, most engaged and in earnest in his reli- 
gious duties. The forms of religion are easily assumed, its 
exterior is easily imitated, regular times for prayer and read- 
ing the Scriptures may grow into a habit, the interruption of 
which will cause uneasiness; attendance upon public worship 
with satisfaction, and increase of knowledge in the doctrines 
and mysteries of religion, may proceed from the force of 
education, and the influence of particular society. These are 
all good in themselves, and God forbid that I should say a 
word to impair their value. But they may all exist, and it 
is to be feared that they may often be found, where the 
power of religion is unfelt and unknown. Against this danger- 
ous, I had almost said hopeless condition, my text forms an 
excellent safe-guard, because it chains down the mind to the 
proper preparation for religious duty, whether in private or 
public, in the solemn thought, that the act itself is an inter- 
view with God, an approach of the worthless, sinful creature, 
to the great and glorious Creator; an application of the sin- 
ner to his Saviour, of the suppliant- to his Judge. "Where- 
with shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before 
the high God?" What train of thought, my brethren, better 
fitted to solemnize the mind, to engage the spirit, to fill the 
heart with devotional feelings when habitually entertained? 
What sentiment better fitted to prompt us to frequent appli- 
cation to God, than the combined feeling of want and supply 
contained in this meditation? And what feeling so calculated 
to elevate the soul, as the contemplation of the rich provision 
which God hath made, through our Lord Jesus Christ, for 
the wants of the Christian? But these, to be felt, must be 
seriously dwelt upon in our meditations — must be contrasted 



14-1 ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 

with the darkness, doubt and uncertainty, which their priva- 
tion would occasion, and must be drawn forth into active 
operation, by applying them to the practical duties of religion. 

"With this inquiry before the mind, the heart will be seri- 
ous, and seriousness on the subject of religion is the parent 
of devotion. But without this quickening principle, the 
whole round of religion may be followed out, yet all be with- 
out profit, without any of that deep and heartfelt enjoyment 
which follows the restoration of a lost hope, and accompanies 
that sure trust and confidence in the promises of God through 
our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the anchor of the soul to the 
humble believer. A mind truly serious, truly in earnest on 
the subject of eternity, will nut be put off with the forms and 
speculations of religion. It cannot subsist on such unsub- 
stantial nourishment. It lono;s for more of God than it has 
yet attained, nor can it be satisfied with past experiences of 
the divine goodness. Hence, constancy in religious duties 
springs from the desire of religious attainment. The person 
who, like David, is athirst for God, will consider every op- 
portunity of approaching him as a privilege. His Sabbaths 
will not be a weariness, nor his worship tedious and tiresome. 
Private devotion will not be interrupted, either for the fear 
or the praise of men, nor yet will it be intruded with Pha- 
risaical ostentation. The Bible will not be laid in sight only,, 
but will be studied, and its precepts inscribed on the heart 
and practised in the life. It will be the man of his counsel 
to the Christian, his study in the day, and his meditation in 
the night watches. 

From the condition of man, and from the nature and de- 
sign of revealed religion, constancy, continuance, persever- 
ance in religious duty, is indispensable, my brethren. With- 
out this there can be no progress, no growth in grace, no at- 
tainment in the fruits of the Spirit; and without improve- 
ment, without increase, there can be no reward. Religion is 
not an impulse upon the mind, once for all, as too many 
seem to think. But it is a measure of the Spirit of God, 
which commences with serious thought, grows up under de- 
vout meditation, and is matured by constancy in religious 
duty. And did we but consider that it is an exotic, a plant 
of heaveuly growth, transplanted into an ungenjal soil, which 



ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 145 

can live, and grow, and become fruitful, only through con- 
stant care and diligent cultivation, dependent for effect on 
the fostering influence of God's blessing, more earnestness 
would be manifested, more joy and peace in believing be ex- 
perienced, and multitudes who now stand aloof from the 
gospel would be encouraged to strive to enter in at the strait 
gate. But the coldness of Christians causes the decline of 
religion in the world. As they appear to enjoy but little, 
others are not stimulated to seek the pearl of great price, and 
not a few are led to doubt whether the religion of Jesus 
Christ be preferable to the morality of the world. This is a 
reproach and an injury, my brethren, which Christians are 
bound to remove from their holy profession, and nothing will 
contribute so speedily and effectually to this happy end as 
manifesting that they are themselves in earnest, by the con- 
stancy and fervor with which they press towards the mark, 
for the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

My text leads to the inquiry — 

IV. Fourthly, as to the effect produced on the heart and 
on the life by religious duties performed. 

As the tree is known by its fruit, so is the Christian known 
by the fruits of the Spirit in the conversation of his life; and 
where there is care to learn, and diligence to put in practice, 
the precepts of the gospel, those fruits will be brought forth, 
in some thirty, in some sixty, and in some an hundred fold, 
according to the various conditions and capacities which the 
providence of Almighty God apportions to his creatures. 

Whether, therefore, our religion be in word merely, or in 
power, must be determined by bringing both the inward and 
the outward man to the standard given us in the word of 
God; and as the person who resorts most frequently to this 
investigation will be better acquainted with himself, and 
with the duties which God requires of him as a redeemed 
sinner, than the person who either altogether neglects or 
carelessly performs it, so will the effect surely be in propor- 
tion. God hath set forth this principle in his holy word, as 
the rule by which he dispenses the blessing of his grace in 
the present life, and his rewards in the life that is to come. 
"Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and 
it shall be opened unto you." "To hirn that hath shall be 



146 ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 

given." "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, 
but shall have the light of life." "Be thou faithful unto 
death and I will give thee a crown of life." On the con- 
stancy and seriousness, then, with which our religious course 
is pursued, will depend our advancement in the divine life, 
our comfort in our own feelings, and our place in eternity: — 
consequences, my brethren, which cannot be lightly esti- 
mated, and which ought to ensure that deep and earnest 
entry into the temper of our own hearts, that honest scrutiny 
into the practice of our lives, which shall recover us to a 
more unreserved surrender of ourselves to God, a more 
marked separation from the vanities and follies of the world, 
a more constant pursuit of our private and public opportuni- 
ties of drawing near to him in meditation and prayer, and, 
as the blessed effect, a more lively enjoyment of the cheering 
hope which his promises convey to the heart that trusts in 
them. 

Professors of religion are much in the habit of looking to 
their comfort; and certainly, the religion which affords no 
actual consolation to its professors, cannot be worthy of much 
sacriiice. Professing Christians, also, are much in the habit 
of complaining of desertion and discomfort under the hidings 
of God's face from them; and certainly, the religion which 
presents its enjoyments equally to the diligent and the sloth- 
ful, to the steadfast and to the unstable professor of its hope, 
would be still less worthy of its author and of our exertions. 
Put let us not deceive ourselves, my brethren, either by ex- 
pecting too much, or by refusing what we may conceive to 
be too little; neither let us attempt to force comfort from the 
Spirit of God, and thereby be deceived into assuming what 
we are not entitled to, or what he sees fit to withhold. The 
only true and safe ground on which to expect the comforts 
of revealed religion, is the performance of commanded duty. 
Let us do this with fervor and constancy, and, as God is true, 
the effect will follow; let us be more intent upon our work 
than upon our daily wages, and if our comforts are withheld 
let us not charge God foolishly, let us rather fear that the 
work has not been well done, that it may stir us up to greater 
diligence; above all, let us never despair, "but let patience 
have her perfect work, for in due time we shall reap if wo 
faint not." 



ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 147 

Thus profitably may the meditations to be drawn from my 
text be applied by Christians. It is indeed but an outline 
which I have given, but one which, I trust, my brethren, 
you will endeavor to fill up with the sincerity of purpose 
which its importance calls for. 

I will, therefore, 

Conclude with a few words, by way of practical improve- 
ment, both to Christians and others. 

"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
before the high God?" 

Apt and proper as this sentiment is to precede every act 
of religious worship, by what proportion of those now present 
was it entertained previous to coming up to the house of God? 
My hearers, you can answer, and as that answer shall be, let 
the reproof or the acquittal follow; but, in either case, let it 
press upon your hearts the propriety, the advantage, yea, the 
necessity, that the rich provision God hath made for your 
salvation should be the subject of serious thought and ac- 
tive improvement. My dear friends, this lies at the very 
threshold of any benefit from the gospel. God is revealed 
that he may be sought unto by men; and how he is to be ap- 
proached without knowing "wherewith to come before him," 
or how this is to be known but from himself through his word, 
passes my understanding. You may, indeed, say that you 
know the terms and conditions of the gospel. True; and so 
much the sorer your condemnation, if you shall continue to 
slight its gracious invitation. But you must also know, that 
revealed religion is not a system of abstract, speculative truth, 
but of practical duty. Its rewards are not proposed to know- 
ledge as such, but to knowledge as applied and improved to 
its proper end. Ponder, therefore, in your hearts, the parable 
of the talents, and consider carefully the case of the unprofit- 
able servant, lest it shall be said to you also, and when you 
shall have nought to answer, "out of thine own mouth will I 
judge thee, thou wicked servant." 

"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
before the high God?" 

The practical improvement of these words, and of what I 
have found to say upon them, is founded on their connexion 
with what, I trust, will be the occupation of the ensuing week, 



148 ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. 

my brethren. The solemn events in our Eedeemer's history 
which it is specially appropriated to celebrate, ought to be 
marked with the deepest interest by his disciples. Jestts 
Christ, and him crucified for us, is an affecting theme to the 
heart of the believer, and it embraces a wide field for the 
range of devout and profitable meditation. But in nothing 
is it more comprehensive than in its connexion with our draw- 
ing near to God. Without his interposition we can neither 
begin, nor continue, nor end. "Wherewith shall I come be- 
fore the Lord?" The answer is, "No man cometh unto the 
Father but by me." "Without me ye can do nothing." 
"Wherewith shall I bow myself before the high God?" The 
answer is, "Through him we have access by one Spirit to the 
Father," and "the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth 
us from all sin." "What shall we do that we might work the 
works of God?" The answer is, "This is the work of God, 
that ye believe in him whom he hath sent." "What shall 
we do that we may inherit eternal life?" The answer is, 
"Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal 
life, and I will raise him up at the last day." 

Take with you, then, my brethren, into the retirement of 
your religious meditations and exercises, this deep and im- 
pressive inquiry. Dwell upon it in the full extent of its con- 
nexion with your religious comfort and religious hope; and 
may God own his word and increase its power in your hearts, 
that your light may shine before men, to the glory of his 
name and the advancement of his kingdom. Amen. 



SERMON XIII. 

Christ's call to repentance. 



Luke v. 32. 
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. 

That our duties should, at the same time, be favors and 
privileges, is the peculiar characteristic of the gospel, my 
brethren; and that even those duties which carry the appear- 
ance of harshness and severity in their appointment and ex- 
ercise, should be of this description, is a most convincing 
proof, when duly considered, of that wisdom, mercy, and 
love, which contrived and fulfilled the wondrous plan where- 
by the perfections of God and the imperfections of fallen man 
are made to harmonize, and the operations of divine grace 
reconciled with the free agency of accountable beings. 
« In no part of our religious duty is this more evident, than 
in that which forms the subject matter of my text. Until 
considered, applied, and exercised, it presents a most forbid- 
ding aspect; we associate whatever is gloomy and severe to 
our imaginations with the very idea of repentance, and dread 
the thought of even attempting to enter upon it as a duty. 
But this mistaken view of the subject does not arise from the 
duty itself, but from the preference of that of which we are 
called upon to repent; it is the love of sin, in some of its al- 
most innumerable deceits, which is at the bottom of this re- 
luctance, and hence it is, that whatever the enemy of our 
souls or our own false hearts can suggest against it, is greed- 
ily listened to. 

Yet, beyond any dispute, it is a privilege conferred upon 
the sinner, and of the highest kind; to be permitted to repent 
is a favor which he could not even ask; far less to have his 
repentance accepted and his sin forgiven, to have his heart 
disposed by the Spirit of God to listen to the grounds, the 
motives, the necessity of repentance, and his natural reluc- 



150 CHRIST'S CALL TO REPENTANCE. 

tance and even inability to enter npon it, removed and sup- 
plied by divine grace: as it also is a privilege and advantage 
of no common character, that what is so essential to all reli- 
gious attainments should be pressed upon the attention by the 
preaching of the gospel, should be set forth as the first step 
in the divine life, the unalterable, and, at the same time, wise 
and merciful appointment of God to regain his favor. I trust, 
therefore, it will be helpful to all present to consider, more 
at length, the particular purpose mentioned by our Lord in 
my text — "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to 
repentance." 

In discoursing on these words on the present occasion, and 
to illustrate the text, I shall inquire, 

First, whom our Lord means by the word righteous. 

Secondly, whom by the word sinners. 

Thirdly, what he means by repentance. 

Fourthly, what by calling sinners to repentance. And 
shall, then, 

Conclude with an application of the whole. 

I. First, I am to inquire what description of persons our 
Lord here calls the righteous. 

As it is the clear and express condition of the gospel, and 
the very foundation on which its grace and mercy rest, that, 
in the view of unspotted purity and holiness, none such are 
to be found in this fallen world, our Lord cannot be supposed 
to speak of persons righteous in this sense; for it is written, 
''There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and 
sinneth not." "There is none righteous, no not one." But, 
though not in the strict and legal sense, yet in an evangelical 
sense, to which, in multiplied passages of Scrij)ture, the 
phrase is adapted, there can be no question but that there 
were many righteous persons upon earth at that time. In 
every age of the world, and under every dispensation of re- 
ligion,. God hath always had a people who feared and honored 
J lis holy name, and served him in faithfulness and truth ac- 
cording to the light afforded them. Of this we have manv 
examples, both in the Old and New Testaments, such as 
Enoch and Noah before the flood, Job, Melchizedek, Abra- 
ham, and Lot after it, Moses, Samuel, and the prophets under 
the law, together with those in our Saviour's day who are 



chkist's call to repentance. 151 

expressly mentioned as just and righteous persons, such as 
Zacharias and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, Joseph and Mary 
the mother of our Lord, with Nathaniel, and many others 
whose names are not mentioned; all of whom,, as they feared 
God and wrought righteousness, he was pleased, according 
to the terms of the new covenant, to accept of as righteous 
through Cueist, though not strictly so in themselves. Such 
persons as these, therefore, having by repentance and faith 
fled to the refuge of their souls in God's revealed method of 
mercy for them, needed not to be called to it again. 

Some have supposed that our Lokd on this occasion spake 
ironically, in derision of the Pharisees, who counted that they 
were righteous, and despised others, and consequently would 
not listen to a call to repentance. But it appears to me that 
the grave and dignified nature of our Lord's office, with the 
importance of every word he spake, forbids a resort to this 
construction. Neither is it necessary; for we have only to 
advert to similar expressions to understand fully his meaning. 
Thus, in the case of the Syro-Phenician woman, our Saviour 
says, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Is- 
rael;" where it is evidently the meaning that he was sent to 
them in the first place; that his personal ministry was to be 
confined to the nation of the Jews; that the gospel was first 
to be preached to them, while nevertheless his name was to 
be for salvation to the ends of the earth. So in the case be- 
fore us, when reproached by the conceited and self-righteous 
Pharisees for associating with publicans and sinners, he jus- 
tified himself and reproved them in the words of my text. 
As if he had said, The purpose for which I am come into the 
world is to reform and reclaim such as these, therefore I as- 
sociate with them. As it is the sick only who have need of 
a physician, so it is to sinners that a call to repentance should 
be most earnestly addressed. The righteous stand not in 
such pressing or immediate need of my help, therefore I am 
not come so expressly to call them, but sinners, to repentance. 
Hence we are taught to consider repentance in two senses — 
one, in which the first awakenings of the sinner are stirred 
up to a sincere and godly sorrow for sin, and to conversion 
from its practice to a new life; the other, in which the be- 
liever is continually exercised under a sense of his many 






152 csrist's call to repentance. 

failures and sliort comings in his best duties, and of the mer- 
cy and love of God in Christ Jesus manifested towards hint. 
These, as they are totally different in nature and degree, are 
to be carefully distinguished by us, that this primary and 
continual duty may be pressed according to its true and ac- 
tual necessity upon each description of our hearers. With- 
out this discrimination, confusion of mind is too often the 
consequence, and, ultimately, rejection of saving truth. 

II. Secondly, let us inquire whom doth our Saviour here 
mean by the term sinners. 

It must be evident, I think, both from the reason of the 
thing and the opposition of the two words in the text, that 
our Lord here means, in the first or chief place, open, out- 
breaking persons, who were living in commission of known 
sin — adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, profane swearers, 
thieves, liars, extortioners, and such like. These, as standing 
in the most open and imminent danger and in the most press- 
ing need, engaged his most earnest sympathy and compas- 
sion for their miserable condition. Next, the more orderly 
and decent part of the community, who were nevertheless 
equally strangers to God and themselves, and equally re- 
gardless of the duties and ordinances of religion, living with- 
out God in the world; and, lastly, the religious part of the 
community, as having much to perfect and complete, even in 
an evangelical sense, of repentance and amendment of life. 

To these three classes the term sinners will apply in differ- 
ent senses, as will also the nature and degree of that repent- 
ance to which they are called. 

Of the first class there can be no dispute. They must repent 
and bring forth fruits meet for repentance, or perish for ever. 

Of the second there is more dispute, though the certainty 
is equally clear. The dispute, however, is with themselves 
and at their own peril, not with the appointments of God. 
Like the Pharisees of old, they may count that they are 
righteous, and look down with scorn upon the poor reprobate 
outcasts of society; but all the while they are just as far from 
God, as much unknown to any act of submission to his re- 
vealed will, as distant from the ordinances and public duties 
of religion, as the veriest profligate can be, with this most 
offensive addition to their guilt, that they justify themselves, 






Christ's call to repentance. 153 

and make void and of none effect the wise and merciful ap- 
pointments of God to save them. 

Of the third class, there is not one entitled to the name of 
religious who does not take to him and herself, in the true 
and genuine sense, the appellation of sinner, and who feels 
not both the duty and the privilege of that repentance to 
which they are called. 

To all, then, the appellation of sinners, made use of in the 
text, is found to apply; while there is, nevertheless, a sense 
in which it is more specially to he understood, and in that 
sense, whoever is no + righteous in the Scriptural sense of the 
Avord, is a sinner who is called to repentance, who is exhorted 
to avail himself of this privilege, and thereby secure the sal- 
vation of his soul. For there are but two classes of persons 
in the world, the righteous and the wicked; in the sight of 
God there is no middle or neutral ground between these two. 
There are, indeed, degrees in sin, and consequently in guilt; 
but sin in any degree, unrepented of, is fatal, for the Scrip- 
ture saith, "whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet of- 
fend in one point, he is guilty of all." Hence the danger of 
allowing ourselves in what are called little sins, of thinking 
lightly of and neglecting the ordinances of religion, of com- 
forting ourselves that we are not as great sinners as some 
others are. For, take notice, my hearers, we may be as no- t 
torious and open sinners in the sight of God as the most vi- 
cious profligates are in our sight; so that if a man perform 
ever so many duties, if there be any which he doth not per- 
form, or if he avoid ever so many sins, and yet there be any 
he doth not avoid, he is still a sinner, who, without repent- 
ance, must perish for ever. 

I come now, in the 

III. Third place, to inquire what is meant by repentance. 

The original and direct meaning of the word is, an after 
thought, a reaction of the mind, and may accordingly apply 
to any change of mind whatever, but in the case before us 
is to be considered exclusively as respects things moral and 
spiritual. 

In this connexion, then, it will mean such an after thought 
as produces a change of mind or disposition on the serious 
subjects of God and religion. This after thought, the result 
fVol. 2 — *11.] 



154 cheist's call to eepentance. 

of reflection and consideration impressed on the mind by the 
Spirit of God, produces such a conviction in the heart of the 
guilt and danger of sin, as committed against the holiness 
and the command of God, as to fill the sinner with fear and 
dismay at the consequences, and with desire to be delivered 
from its power and from its condemnation. Hence arises 
that godly sorrow mentioned in the Scriptures, which work- 
eth repentance unto life, and is opposed in the same Scrip- 
tures to the sorrow of the world — the mere regret for the 
consequences of sin, whether present or future, which work- 
eth death. For sincere and genuine sorrow for sin as an of- 
fence against God is always accompanied with a change of 
conduct, or, as it is expressed in Scripture, "brings forth 
fruits meet for" or answerable to true "repentance," where- 
as, mere sorrow for the consequences of sin, as it has in it no 
element of godliness — of either the fear or the love of God — 
produces no such fruits; the love of sin remains, and wants 
but a suitable opportunity to be again indulged in. 

Thus we see that true repentance does not consist singly 
in a change of mind or alteration of conduct, but in the union 
of both, springing from a religious motive. The true penitent 
does not only hate sin, but fears it and flees from it. He 
does not forsake some, say the grosser and more open sins of 
his life, but all and every sin. He does not content himself 
with the outward restraint of sin, but labors and strives for 
the destruction of its power in his heart. He does not only 
cease to do evil, but he learns to do well — becomes earnest, 
active, and diligent in the use and application of those means 
of grace which are appointed in the word of God, which he 
once neglected, perhaps despised. "Behold he prayeth," is 
the mark by which the angels of God discern the penitent; 
and the penitent who prays through the mediation of Jesus 
Chkist, learns, sooner or later, that the prayer of faith is 
mighty to obtain the blessing of that God who is ever ready 
to receive humble and penitent sinners for his dear Son's 
sake; like the poor prodigal mentioned in the gospel, he comes 
to himself, he recovers his senses, he remembers his father's 
house — "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto 
him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee T 
and am no more worthy to be called thy son." He is seen 



Christ's call to repentance. 155 

entering the house of God, engaging in the worship of God, 
walking with the people of God; and the joy felt in heaven 
over the sinner that repenteth, spreads its gladsome feeling 
over the Church on earth; every child of God rejoices to see 
another wanderer brought back to the fold of Christ — ano- 
ther immortal soul snatched as a brand from the burning. 

Such, my brethren and hearers, is the true Scripture notion 
of repentance. JSTot merely a change of conduct, but a revo- 
lution of sentiment, a renovation of heart in its whole pro- 
gress, wrought by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, where- 
by the mind or disposition is wholly taken off from sin, turned 
round or converted to God, and set to obey his command- 
ments. This is the repentance our Lord means in the text — 
that repentance to which he calls sinners by the gospel — that 
repentance without which there is no hope for them, without 
which they must perish for ever. 

IY. Fourthly, I am to inquire what we are to understand 
by his calling sinners to repentance. 

As sin originally separated us from God, so, while persisted 
in, it precludes us from all possible return to his favor. It 
must, therefore, be repented of and forsaken. That this 
might be rendered both practicable and acceptable, the ever 
blessed Son of God undertook the redemption of fallen man, 
by expiating their sins in his own person, and thereby pro- 
curing for them easier conditions of salvation than the rigor 
of the law demanded or the holiness and justice of God per- 
mitted, without an adequate atonement. 

To this end, he took our nature upon him, suffered death 
upon the cross, and having thereby made satisfaction for the 
sins of the whole world, he became the mediator of a new 
covenant, in which, by repentance towards God, and faith in 
the Lord Jesus Christ, sinners might be delivered from the 
curse and condemnation of the law, and restored to the hope 
and the attainment of eternal life. This is the foundation of 
the gospel, and the subject matter of those glad tidings of 
great joy, which angels proclaimed at his birth, and which 
through the mercy of God have reached even unto us. By 
our Lord's calling sinners to repentance, then, we are to un- 
derstand his making known to them the terms and conditions 
of the covenant of grace, purchased by his blood, whereof 



156 Christ's call to repentance . 

repentance is the first; together with the invitations, exhorta- 
tions, promises, and threatenings of the gospel, whereby he 
requires, persuades, and commands them, in consideration of 
what he hath done and suffered for them, to forsake their 
sins, throw down the weapons of their rebellion, and follow 
him in the bright example of his holiness, humility, faith, 
and patience; giving them full assurance, by his glorious re- 
surrection from the dead, that he had fully accomplished the 
mighty work of redemption, and opened the kingdom of hea- 
ven to all believers — that as he hath redeemed them to God 
by his blood, so hath he also purchased grace, or renewal of 
spiritual power, lost by sin, to enable them to fulfil the con- 
ditions recpiired of them. This is properly his calling them 
to repentance; and thus in every gospel land are sinners 
called, by the word and Spirit of God, to "-forsake the fool- 
ish, and live,' 1 to "turn from the error of their ways, flee 
from the wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life." 

Thus have I laid before you, my hearers, the outline of this 
leading doctrine of the gospel of Christ; of the persons to 
whom it applies, and of the authority hj which it is pressed 
up<>n your attention. Take heed, then, how ye hear, for he 
that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God. As an ambas- 
sador of Christ, 1 pray you in Christ's stead, be ye recon- 
ciled to God; I testify to all present, that except they repent 
they shall perish. 

Lastly, to apply what has been said. 

It is not my province, generally speaking, my friends, to 
pronounce who are the righteous, and who the sinners; but 
from the word of God, to lay before men those marks by 
which they may try themselves and their ways, and decide 
on their true condition in the sight of God. 

By what you have this day heard, then, and by what your 
Bibles shall further teach you on this and every other sub- 
ject connected with your eternal salvation, let me counsel 
you to examine whether you have repented or no. Many 
are the calls yon have had, not only outwardly by the word, 
but inwardly by the strivings of God's Holy Spirit within 
you. "To-day, then, if ye will hear his voice, harden not 
your hearts." Every neglected call weakens your power and 
inclination to listen to the next, until you may be left to the 



'S CALL TO REPENTANCE. 157 



hardness of an impenitent and blinded heart. Oh, did yon 
bnt know your danger, could you but apprehend how much 
may depend on this little moment, a last warning, perhaps, 
before eternity lays hold of some poor sinner present, you 
would not cast it from you Avith the neglect so many exhibit. 
But whether you will hear or whether you will forbear, I 
must deliver my own soul. Therefore I call upon them in 
the name of Christ, to repent of their sins, to flee to the 
mercy of God revealed through Jesus Christ for pardon and 
salvation, believing what Christ hath spoken, relying on 
what he hath promised, and observing whatsoever he hath 
commanded. Assuring every sinner present, that he is able 
to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, and 
that there is none other name or means under heaven, given 
among men, whereby we must be saved, only the name and 
grace of Jesus Christ of jSrazareth. • O, ask yourselves now, 
what it will profit you in the day of wrath and revelation of 
the righteous judgment of God, when the Lord Jesus shall 
be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance 
on them that know not God and obey not the gospel — what 
will it profit you, to have enjoyed all the pleasures of sin in 
this life, at the price of eternal misery in the next. Your 
most merciful Saviour now offers himself to you, in the words 
of peace and love; but in that day he will appear as your 
inexorable Judge. "Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, 
that your sins may be blotted out." "Behold, now is the ac- 
cepted time, now is the day of salvation." 

And you, my brethren, who through faith in the Lord Je- 
sus Christ are accounted righteous before God, think not 
that you are unconcerned in this great and universal duty. 
Sinless perfection is not the attainment of this life, and daily 
experience must teach you how far short you come even of 
that which you know, and desire, and strive to attain unto. 
And herein is continual occasion for watchfulness, for self- 
abasement, for penitential sorrow, that we receive so much 
and return so little to the giver of every good and perfect 
gift to his creatures. Let this sense, then, of the goodness of 
God, deepen your repentance, strengthen you faith, increase 
your hope, and brighten your charity. Use seasons of re- 
tirement to enter deeper into your own hearts, to mortify 



158 Christ's call to repentance. 

and cast out the remains of the old Adam, that the whole 
body of sin may be destroyed, and the life of faith perfected 
in yon. "Keep yourselves in the love of God; looking unto 
Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy 
that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the 
shame, and is set down at the right hand of God, where he 
ever liveth, to make intercession for us." 



SERMON XIV. 



HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 



Luke ix. 23. 

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny 
himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 

It is worthy of particular notice, my brethren, and deserves 
to be carefully considered by every Christian, that the re- 
ligion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ made its way in 
the world, and prevailed over the various forms of Heathen 
superstition, and the corrupt prejudices of human nature, 
not only without any politic accommodation of its holy prin- 
ciples to the established notions, habits of thinking, customs 
and manners of the times, but with the most uncompromising 
rejection and condemnation, as sinful, of all that is most dear 
and pleasant to the natural man, most cherished and follow- 
ed by the spirit of the world. That under such circumstances 
it should have succeeded, forms a very conclusive argument 
in favor of the divine original of Christianity and of its 
author. But when to this circumstance we add the confir- 
mation derived from the unparalleled fact, that this religion 
made its way to the hearts of men, and accomplished its tri- 
umphs over the darkness and lewdness of the times, under 
the clear and explicit disclosure, that poverty, reproach, and 
contempt, that suffering in all its shapes, even to bonds, im- 
prisonment, and death, was the portion which those who first 
embraced it were to expect in the present life, the conviction 
is irresistible, that divine power alone could have brought 
this to pass. 

As from these facts we derive an unanswerable argument 
for the divine origin and obligation of the religion we profess, 
so may we also derive from it, my brethren, a sure and im- 
partial standard whereby to determine our personal religion. 
For it is the same world, out of which the first Christians 
were called, that the gospel invites us to come out from. 



160 HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 

The same corrupt nature, the same vicious propensities, the 
same preference of sensual delights, and the same determi- 
nation of the affections towards earthly things, so visible in 
them, is equally present in us. The gross darkness of Heathen 
ignorance, and the disgusting impurity of Heathen manners, 
differ only in degree from the instructed and practical infi- 
delity, and the more refined dissoluteness of modern vice, in 
Christian lands. In kind they are the same, and in the sight 
of God, perhaps, more hateful in us than in them; the same 
means, also, provided for their instruction, renewal, and 
sanctirication, are afforded to us, and the same fruit unto 
holiness is unalterably required. As we are conformed to or 
separated from the vicious customs of the world in our day; 
as our affections are set upon things above, or tied down to 
the farms and the merchandise, the professions and the plea- 
sures of the world; as we make open acknowledgment of the 
Christian faith, and live answerable to the requirements of 
the gospel; so is our spiritual condition, my hearers. The 
command, "love not the world, neither the things that are in 
the world," is still in force to us as to the first Christians; 
ami it is equally important to all present that the inquiry 
should be made, whether they are in such wise friends of the 
world, as to be the enemies of God; or have so learnt to use 
it as those who know that this world passeth away, and that 
in heaven only they have a better country — a more enduring 
substance. 

The inquiry, whether we are truly religious or not, is only 
another form of speech for the inquiry whether we are in the 
favor of God or exposed to his wrath. An inquiry, my dear 
friends, which never can be indifferent to an immortal being, 
under the uncertainties of the present life — an inquiry to 
which it is my duty to call your attention, and for the deter- 
mination of which, satisfactorily, you are furnished in the 
meditations suggested by my text. Have you come to Christ? 
Have you denied yourself and taken up the cross? Are you 
followers of Jesus, or followers of the world? These are ques- 
tions which naturally grow out of this very solemn declara- 
. ration of our Lorn); and that you may be enabled to answer 
them understanding^ and profitably, I will endeavor to ex- 
plain and enforce the particular points of Christian duty con^ 
tained in the text, in the order in which they there stand. 



HOW TO COME TO CHEIST. 161 

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let 
him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." 

I. First, what are we to understand by the words, "if any 
man will come after me." 

That these words refer to the obligation all are under to 
embrace the gospel to whom it is proposed, is too evident to 
require any proof. As the Lord Jesus Christ came into the 
world to save sinners, to instruct them in the will of God, 
and show them the way of life and happiness eternal, those 
who believed his divine authority and received his doctrine, 
were denominated his disciples or followers: to these he im- 
parted his instructions in a more clear and familiar manner 
than to the multitudes who nocked to hear his preaching and 
see the miracles which he wrought, and to these he address 
ed those precious promises which are in a peculiar sense the 
property of those who are the children of God by faith in 
Christ Jesus. "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of 
the kingdom of God, but unto them that are without all these 
things are done in parables." "Whoso heareth my words 
and believeth on him that sent me, hath eternal life, and I 
will raise him up at the last day." "Whosoever shall confess 
me before men, him will I also confess before my Father 
which is in heaven." "If a man love me he will keep my 
words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto 
him and make our abode with him." Now, while it is un- 
deniable that these are inducements sufficient to engage the 
attention of every rational being, it is no less clear that, to 
obtain these advantages, we must comply with the conditions 
on which they are offered, we must become the disciples or 
followers of Christ, we must learn of him, we must study his. 
doctrine, obey his precepts, and follow his example. 

The immediate reflection, therefore; presented to all present, 
by this clause of my text, is this; Am I a disciple of Jesus 
Christ? am I a professor of his name and religion before the 
world? am I in communion with his Church upon earth? am I 
striving to attain his promises? And according as this can 
honestly be answered, is there ground of comfort or alarm to 
every one of you. Now, as you can all make answer with 
certainty upon this point, so can you understand, even by 
human analogies, that where a previous condition is required 



162 HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 

it must be performed in order to reap the benefit. The invi- 
tation of the gospel, therefore, must be complied with on 
your part before there can be any hope of the blessings of 
the gospel. Come unto me, says Christ to every weary, 
heavy laden sinner, and I will give you rest. But if they 
never come, how shall they obtain rest to their souls? And 
how can any now come to Christ but through the ordinances 
of his Church? You may say, indeed, that you have already 
come to Christ by baptism; and so far your advantage i's 
great; but do you not know that therein you incurred obli- 
gations which, if not fulfilled, will more deeply condemn 
you? Have you, then, fulfilled your baptismal engagements? 
If not, where is the profit of it unless you repent and do your 
first works, and by a true and lively faith in the Lord Jesus 
Christ obtain the pardon of your sins, and be reinstated in 
that from which you are fallen away? Surely no reasonable 
person can suppose that the ordinances of religion operate 
after the manner of charms; and yet the great majority in 
Christian lands act as if this was the case, and never seem to 
apprehend, that to be entitled to the hope of the gospel we 
must fulfil the conditions of the gospel — must first come to 
Christ by an open profession of his name and religion before 
the world, and thenceforward continue in his word, that is, 
in obedience to his commandments — as the sole ground on 
which spiritual attainment and eternal life is promised. No- 
thing is more clearly declared in the gospel than this, that 
until we are in Christ by some personal act which the gospel 
prescribes and recognizes, we have neither part nor lot in the 
promises of the gospel. Our entrance into the covenant of 
mercy and grace by baptism in our infancy is valid and effectual 
until forfeited by personal sin, and when thus forfeited — as, 
alas! it most commonly is by those who arrive at years of 
discretion, or rather, as they should be called, of indiscretion 
— there is no other resource, no other refuge, than open re- 
pentance and acknowledgment of sin, declared reliance on 
the blood of Christ as the only atonement, renewed obedience 
to the law of life in the gospel, with humble dependence on 
the mercy of God for pardon and acceptance, through the 
merits and intercession of Jesus Christ. These God hath 
promised to accept from the sinner, truly penitent, unto jus- 



HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 163 

tification of life, and having accommodated his grace and 
mercy so fully to our feeble condition, the conclusion is in- 
evitable that less than this he will accept from no man who 
hears the gospeL And I pray and entreat all those who are 
sitting loose to this the first and indispensable duty of re- 
deemed sinners, to reflect upon their condition, to burst the 
bonds of unbelief, to listen to the reason of their own minds 
and the voice of their own consciences, confirmed by the 
word of God, and pass the Rubicon, the narrow, and; I may 
say, the only obstacle which keeps them from the succor and 
help nf that divine grace by which only the world can be 
overcome and salvation accomplished. "If any man will 
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross 
daily, and follow me." But, my dear hearers, we must first 
come to Christ before we can even think of such religious 
duties as are here required of Christians, and still more be- 
fore we can be enabled to perform them. The morality of 
the world may go a certain length in imitating the fruits of 
true religion, and thereby add much to the comfort and ac- 
commodation of the present life. ISTor is it a light argument 
for the divine original of Christianity, that the mere copy of 
its virtues, by those who yet disown its power, should shed 
so benign an influence over the condition of gospel lands. 
But it can go no farther than the boundary of time. The 
shadow of religion passeth away — the substance only can 
endure the shock of dissolving nature and a burning world, 
and enter in within that vail where God sits enthroned in all 
his glory, and where mansions of everlasting blessedness are 
prepared for those who, through faith and patience, inherit 
the promises of the gospel. 

II. Secondly, "if any man will come after me, let him 
deny himself." 

The religious doctrine and Christian duty of self-denial is 
grounded altogether on the fundamental doctrine of the fallen, 
depraved, condition of human nature. Were our reason un- 
clouded by depraved affections, our choice unbiassed by a 
perverted will; were our faculties entire for the discernment 
of good and evil, and our strength unimpaired to resist temp- 
tation; there could be no occasion for inculcating this duty. 
But, situated as we are, my brethren, with the love of sin 



164 



HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 



predominant in our nature, it is not only profitable but es- 
sential, it is not only reasonable but indispensable, if we would 
enjoy the comforts of religion in time, and secure its reward 
in eternity, that we learn to deny ourselves. Yet who does 
not feel that this is the "hard saying" which we are not able 
"to hear," the great stumbling block to the reception of the 
gospel. Intuitively, almost, we anticipate its application to 
the things that are most pleasant to the natural man, and 
dread to encounter the privations which imagination is on 
the alert to magnify beyond their due proportion. To correct 
this propensity, then, and to place this indispensable duty on 
its Scriptural foundation, let us inquire what we are to under- 
stand by the self-denial here enjoined; and that this may be 
the more distinct and clear to your apprehensions, I will con- 
sider it both negatively and affirmatively; and, 

First, religious self-denial does not consist in words or ac- 
knowledgments. The clearest views of Scripture doctrine, 
the most unqualified confession of our depraved and de- 
pendent conditon, the most forcible admission of the awful 
state of ruin into which sin hath sunk our nature, cannot 
meet the just requirements of this duty; and for this plain 
reason, because the duty is practical, whereas such acknow- 
ledgments are as much in the reach of the most selfish sen- 
sualist as of the most watchful Christian. And I mention 
this because it is now much the fashion among persons of 
religious profession to abound more in expressions of self- 
abasement than in acts of self-denial; and because it is quite 
common for persons who make no profession and have no 
concern with religion, to comfort themselves with the ac- 
knowledgment that they are poor, weak, sinful creatures, 
without a single effort to burst the chains of sin and struggle 
into the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made them free. 

Self-denial does not consist in a sour, morose temper, re- 
fusing either ourselves or others the lawful, thankful enjoy- 
ment of all the blessings conferred on us by the good provi- 
dence of Almighty Goo. On the contrary, as God loveth 
the cheerful giver, so doth he love a thankful receiver of his 
various blessings. To use so as not to abuse, to enjoy so as 
not to forget the Giver of every good and perfect gift to his 
creatures, is the condition on which they are bestowed, and 



HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 165 

within which he giveth us all things richly to enjoy. A 
different view of the subject, equally opposite to Scripture 
and reason, has given rise to all the superstition and de- 
bauchery of monastic institutions, under the absurd notion 
that the salvation of our souls could best be secured by flying 
from the duties of that station in life which the providence 
of God had assigned us. 

Nor yet does self-denial consist in such a neglect of the 
duties belonging to our worldly condition, as to defeat the 
industry and application due to its lawful improvement. A 
state of trial must ever be a state of activity and exertion; 
variety of condition, also, is a necessary part of its composi- 
tion, and this variety, in all its grades, is among the talents 
committed to our trust. These are all capable of improve- 
ment to the glory of God and the good of our fellow-creatures, 
and, as there can be no improvement; without increase, with- 
out an addition to the original stock, care and diligence, econ- 
omy and industry, in our worldly callings, are religious du- 
ties, without which we cannot fulfil the obligations we owe 
to God and to our neighbor. 

Hence, it is just as incumbent on the rich to exert a provi- 
dent care and industry, and to avoid all extravagance and 
waste of their worldly goods, as it is upon the poor to use the 
same means to better their worldly condition, for both are 
bound by the law of Christian love to be ready and willing 
to distribute proportionally to the wants and necessities of 
all around them. 

Secondly, self-denial does consist in relincmishing every 
thing that is contrary to the divine command, or injurious to 
our own spiritual welfare. This is the true meaning of the 
term, the practical operation of the duty, and within this 
boundary it must be exercised by all who would be considered 
followers of Christ. Hence, whatever is directly sinful, or 
indirectly leading to sin, however pleasant, however appa- 
rently advantageous it may seem, is the subject of this duty. 
The pleasures and the practices of the world, as they are for- 
mally renounced by every Christian at his baptism, are to be 
as constantly watched against in the exercise of self-denial. 
The inordinate affections of the mind, the unlawful gratifica- 
tion of the flesh, and the rebellious inclinations of our corrupt 



166 



HOW TO COME TO CHKIST. 



wills, must all be restrained under the salutary control of 
self-denial. These wild beasts of our fallen nature, if I may 
so speak, must be kept in their cage, and the door carefully 
watched, for if they once make their escape it is a hard and 
a painful task to bring them once more into subjection. 

Another branch of this practical duty finds its profitable 
exercise in the regulation and control of our understanding. 
As knowledge of divine things is derived from divine com- 
munication, it is a primary duty to submit our rational facul- 
ties to the wisdom of God, and "receive with meekness the 
engrafted word which is able to save our souls." Yet there 
is a pride, a loftiness, in the wisdom of the world, which 
would measure the divine mind by its own puny standard, 
and look down with contempt on the simplicity of the gospel; 
which dares to intrude into things not seen, and speculate on 
the mysteries of God as #n some branch of natural knowledge. 
Against this most unreasonable and ruinous perversion of our 
highest faculty, self-denial must stand ever on its guard, and 
this the more resolutelv, as it is unanswerablv true, that in 
things spiritual, there is to us no other source of knowledge 
than the divine word, as contained in the Scriptures of our 
faith. These are to us "the law and the testimony," and 
Without their supreme warrant, there is neither sense or safety 
in any system of faith and practice. 

Connected with this, and very intimately, as experience 
demonstrates, is another danger, against which self-denial 
lias to exert all its powers of opposition and mortification, 
and that is self-righteousness; in other words, the relying on 
the merit of our own works of righteousness, for acceptance 
with God. And I connect it with the pride of science, falsely 
so called, because it is the main danger of the better informed 
and more moral part of the community, who have never felt 
the nlague of their own hearts, in thorough conviction of the 
absolute sinfulness of their nature, and separation from God; 
who speculate on the mystery of godliness, as a provision for 
cases more extreme than theirs, and receive not the Lokd 
Jesus Christ as the Lord their righteousness. And if there 
is a condition under the light of the gospel, from which hope 
of mercy is precluded, it must be found in that pride of un- 
derstanding which would be wise, not only above, but con- 



HOW TO COME TO CUEIST. 167 

trary to, what is written; which would defraud the Saviour 
of the efficacy of his death, and make that eternal life which 
he has purchased for sinners, the reward of debt, and not of 
grace. 

Yet, my brethren, it is a temptation, however blasphemous, 
which we are all prone to entertain in some of its multifari- 
ous deceits, and from which nothing can shield us but that 
true self-knowledge which we obtain from the word of God, 
kept in constant operation by the exercise of self-denial. It 
is a scion from the root of unbelief, which must be torn from 
our hearts if we would be in such wise followers of Christ, 
as to obtain a share of that glory wherewith his unparalleled 
self-denial has been rewarded for himself, and for his faithful 
followers. 

III. Thirdly, "If any man will come after me, let him deny 
himself, and take up his cross daily." 

Under an established state of Christianity, and in the ab- 
sence of all persecution on account of religion, it is not very 
easy to draw the line between the duty of self-denial and that 
of taking up the cross. To come after Chkist, and to live in 
the exercise of self-denial, as just explained, amounts so nearly 
to any idea we can entertain of the particular duty of taking 
up our cross, that these words may be considered as express- 
ing the full extent of the two previous duties combined; 
thereby denoting as marked a separation from the world, 
with as entire a dedication of ourselves to the service of God, 
as Christ himself presented, and as is compatible with our 
actual condition when compared with his. 

Yet as there certainly is a sense in which the duty of taking 
up our cross, here enjoined, may be profitably understood 
and applied by all Christians, as distinct from the duty of 
self-denial, I shall endeavor to explain it in that sense in 
which it is applicable to existing circumstances in our re- 
ligious condition. 

First, it includes an open and public profession of the re- 
ligion of our Lord Jesus Christ; the confession of him as the 
Christ of God, the promised Saviour of sinners; the thank- 
ful acceptance of the atonement of his death as the only sac- 
rifice for sin, with obedience to the commands he hath left 
us in the gospel. 



16S HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 

This may be considered as the lowest sense, indeed, in 
which the taking up the cross is to be understood. Yet it is 
certainly a part of the duty, and one which I heartily wish 
was more considered and acted upon than it is; for it is es- 
sential to any benefit by and through the Lord Jesus Christ. 
"He that is not for me is against me," says our Lord, and he 
threatens to deny all such, in the last day, as shall be either 
afraid or ashamed to confess him before men. 

The words of my text also point to this meaning of the 
command to take up our cross. Many went after Christ to 
hear his doctrine, and see the miracles he wrought to confirm 
it as divine, who yet from various causes did not openly be- 
come his disciples; and we may reasonably suppose, that it 
was by way of rebuke and warning to such persons, that he 
expressed himself as in the words of my text. In like man- 
ner, in the present day, multitudes come after Christ, in so 
tar as attendance upon the public ordinances of religion may 
be thus called, who yet go no farther; who take not up ths 
cross in this sense of the words; who from some cause, alien 
to a just sense either of the benefits to be derived from Christ, 
or of the loss and danger incurred by thus tampering and 
trilling with this indispensable duty, hang upon the skirts of 
religion, as it were, without once realizing that awful day, 
when Christ shall justly say to them, I never knew you — ye 
were ashamed of me before men — I cannot confess you be- 
fore my Father and the holy angels. 

Secondly, to take up our cross daily, includes a ready and 
willing submission to those particular trials wherewith the 
providence of Almighty God sees fit to exercise our faith and 
prove our obedience. As self-denial consists chiefly in fore- 
going some present gratification, because inconsistent with 
the care of our souls, and contrary to the honor of God, the 
taking up the cross in this sense of the words, will consist in 
suffering patiently whatever of privation or of direct inflic- 
tion the divine wisdom sees necessary to purify and jjerfect 
our fallen nature, to wean us from the world and prepare us 
for glory. This is the method by which the dross of earthly 
desires can best be purged off, and therefore are they sent. 
Our Saviour himself, us man, was made perfect through suf- 
ferings, and we must be made like unto him in this as in all 



HOW TO OOME TO CHRIST. 169 

other respects, if we would be partakers with him in that 
glory to which his obedience hath exalted him. 

Thirdly, to take up our cross includes, in the highest sense 
of the words, the being ready to encounter all worldly loss, 
to endure all worldly suffering, to submit to persecution, and 
even to the loss of life itself, rather than deny Christ or sur- 
render our religion. Of this triumph of faith, of this fixed 
and unshaken trust in God our Saviour, thousands have set 
the example, not counting their lives dear unto themselves, 
so they might win Christ and be found in him. And though 
we are not called, my brethren, to such trials, yet are we 
called to possess the same believing, confiding spirit, the 
mind that was in Christ and in these his faithful disciples. 
The same grace, also, through which they were borne on- 
ward to the prize of their high calling, is yet in operation, 
and sufficient for every duty required at our hands; and sure 
we may be, that if our trials are lighter our obligations are 
higher, if less is required at our hands, the more thankful, 
the more faithful, and the more earnest we should be, in 
what is enjoined us; and that if we take not up the cross ap- 
pointed for our day, Christ's light and easy yoke, we must 
bear for ever the bitter cross of the curse of God, the insup- 
portable load of everlasting torment. 

Lastly — 

"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and 
take up his cross daily, and follow me." 

To follow Christ means, in this connexion, to continue 
steadfast in the profession and practice of his religon, neither 
terrified by persecution nor seduced by temptation. 

Perseverence in holiness is the condition of salvation, my 
brethren. "He that endureth to the end the same shall be 
saved," says our Lord, but if he "draw back, my soul shall 
have no pleasure in him," says God. The reward of eternal 
life, as it exceeds all computation, as it is a free gift to un- 
deserving creatures through the merits of Christ, is not to 
be lightly esteemed or trifled with, nor are the means of 
attaining it, set forth in the word of God, to be taken up or 
put down upon any calculations of present interest or con- 
venience. "No man having put his hand to the plough and 
looking back is fit for the kingdom of God." If the business 
[Vol. 2,— *12.] 



170 HOW TO COME TO CHRIST. 

or the pleasures of the "world, or the indolence or inadvert- 
ence of our corrupt hearts, are permitted to withstand or tc- 
neutralize the solemn assurances of death, judgment, and 
eternity, awaiting accountable beings, favored with the glad 
tidings of the gospel and furnished with the means of grace, 
"it were better" for us, my hearers, "never to have known 
the way of righteousness" than "to depart from the holy 
commandment delivered" to us; it were good for us that we 
had never been born, if we fall away from the offered mercy 
of God, and the grace of our Lokd Jesus Christ, and break 
the solemn obligations undertaken at our baptism. "Be thou 
faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life," says the 
faithful and true witness. "He that overcometh shall inherit 
all things. But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abomi- 
nable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and 
idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which, 
burnetii with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." 
What then is our part, my dear friends, under the unde- 
niable responsibilities of our condition? Where is room even 
for hesitation under the vast alternative of life or death eter- 
nal? Let truth then prevail; let the reasonableness of our 
duty recommend it to our most serious attention; let the 
awful uncertainty of the present life throw its weight into the 
scale of our salvation, and bring us forthwith to Christ, pre- 
pared to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow 
Jesus in the way which he hath trodden before us, through 
all the changes and chances of this mortal life. Let us do 
this, my brethren and hearers, under the happy assurance 
that he, whose strength' is made perfect in our weakness, will 
be with us in all our trials, and make good his encouraging 
declaration, that "his yoke is easy and his burden light." 
"Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and 
I will give you rest." "Learn of me — and ye shall find rest 
unto your souls." O that the answer may be from all: — 
"Lord to whom else shall we go, for thou hast the words of 
eternal life." 



SEEMOK XY. 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 



John v. 40. 
And ye ■will not come to me, that ye might have life. 

Nothing is so fatal to our souls, my brethren and hearers, 
as indifference and carelessness on the subject of religion. 
Nothing forms so complete a bar to the grace of the gospel, 
as that obstinate unwillingness to be saved which is evidenced 
by those who resist the warning and instruction of God's 
word, the reason of their own minds, and the yerdict of their 
own consciences, to say nothing of those strivings of the Holt 
Spirit which ever and anon apply the truth to their hearts 
with such power as almost to persuade them to yield. "But 
they will not come to Christ that they might have life." 
Some deceit of sin — some flattering bait of the God of this 
world — some engagement with the things of time and sense, 
on which they are more bent than on the care of their im- 
mortal souls, stifles the conviction of guilt and danger, and 
delivers them over once more to the strong delusion which 
ends in their being hardened in sin. I speak not now of 
those bold contenders against God and the word of his grace 
who make a mock at sin, scoff at revelation, and, sufficient 
for their own expectation here and hereafter, deny the Lord 
that bought them, and trample on his blood — such cannot be 
expected to come to him for life; — but of that greater number 
on whom the word of life is bestowed in vain, for they search, 
not the Scriptures — on whom warning is thrown away, for 
they heed it not — in whose hearts conviction is deadened by 
the care of other things, and by whom time is not measured 
by its advancement towards eternity, but as it promotes or 
retards the gains, the enjoyments, the disappointments, or 
the sufferings of the life that now is. Oh! what multitudes 
are in, this dangerous condition in this Christian land, and 



172 THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 

who are thus, partly from mistaken views of the doctrines of 
the gospel, but chiefly from thoughtlessness and carelessness 
on the subject of religion, adding force to the natural enmity 
of the carnal mind, and increasing the power of those temp- 
tations which lead them farther and farther from God. And 
shall no effort be made to show them their danger, and point 
them to a better course? Yes, by God's good blessing, this 
day shall be a witness for me in this behalf, and, I trust, for 
some of them, by showing them, 

First, what are the chief hindrances which prevent people 
from coming to Christ that they might have life. 

Secondly, in what manner thev must come to obtain this 
blessing. 

And then by making, in conclusion, a short application of 
the subject. 

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." 

I. First, I am to point out the chief hindrances which pre- 
vent people from coming to Christ that they might have life. 

The first and main obstacle is want of serious considera- 
tion. Few or none can plead ignorance of the great outlines 
of Christianity. But in religion, as -in all other sciences, 
knowledge, when unapplied, diners in nothing from igno- 
rance. Now to consider and apply knowledge, is a habit or 
qualification of mind to be acquired by practice and discip- 
line, and it is the great art which makes education of every 
kind useful and profitable. 

In religion especiallj r , which to fallen creatures is in every 
sense a forced state, this habit of considering and applying 
the truths revealed to us lies at the very entrance of any ad- 
vancement or progress whatever. Without this, whatever 
knowledge we attain to of God and ourselves, of the means 
provided for our benefit and the use we are required to make 
of them, is nothing but a mere speculation of the understand- 
ing, as destitute of any moral power over the will and affec- 
tions as the remembrance of any abstruse mathematical de- 
monstration. And yet we might well imagine, that were 
there any one thing, the intrinsic importance of which would 
bear down all opposition and engage exclusively the atten- 
tion and endeavors of intelligent and accountable beings, it 
must be religion; for what is religion but the science of being 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 173 

happy here and happy forever, and this upon as sure a foun- 
dation as the being and truth of Almighty God. 

The nature of God and his just claims upon us as our Cre- 
ator being once admitted, the way is open to all the wonders 
of his wisdom and love in the redemption of the world, through 
careful consideration. The plan of this mighty work is found 
to be so exactly suited to our condition, so adequate to the 
relief of our most pressing wants, so calculated to give cer- 
tainty and assurance to what we must otherwise for ever have 
remained ignorant of, that the conclusion from this branch 
of the evidence is almost compulsory. But to produce any 
effect, it must be considered, must be dwelt upon, must be 
applied and carried out to the thoughts, and the words, and 
th'e actions of the man, must in this way be brought to bear 
upon the real complexion of his character and conduct as in 
the sight of God, as transacted before one who cannot be de- 
ceived, and whose judgment must ever be according to truth. 
It is by this process that we come to understand our true 
condition, to perceive something of the purity of God and of 
the malignity of sin as opposed to the holiness of his nature, 
that we are drawn to count up the endless years of eternity, 
and the tremendous sanctions with which it is made to bear 
upon the short and uncertain state of being which is hourly 
drawing us nearer and nearer to all that it has to enjoy or to 
suffer; and are led to entertain the solemn meditation— 
"What shall I do to be saved?" 

It is by consideration only that we arrive at that conclusive 
proof in favor of revelation, which grows out of the exact 
agreement of the representation therein given of man fallen, 
with what experience and observation have taught us of our- 
selves and others. It is by this we perceive that the plan of 
redemption, though embracing the world in its ample enclo- 
sure, is yet special to every individual sinner. So much so, 
that were there not another but himself in the boundary of 
the universe, the whole of this glorious provision of the love 
of God, in the wonderful comprehension of its breadth, and 
length, and height, and depth, would have been needed to 
bring tha£ single sinner back to holiness and God. 

Thus far can consideration of what is revealed to us, aided 
by that divine grace of which all baptized persons are par- 



174 THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 

takers, bring those who give themselves seriously to it; and 
to this very end is the whole counsel of God addressed to us 
as reasonable beings, and made to bear upon hopes and fears 
which we can estimate and apply. 

But there is one step further to which consideration of di- 
vine truth can lead us, and that is to prayer; for prayer is the 
fruit of a sense of want and danger, and is the evidence which 
heaven requires of our sincerity. On this is suspended all 
its mighty benefits to us in the gift of the Holy Spirit. "Ask 
and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it 
shall be opened unto you." "For if ye being evil know how 
to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall 
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask 
him." 

Now the Holy Spirit is that mighty agent in the great 
work of our salvation, without whom we can do nothing. It 
is by him that thought, and reflection, and consideration of 
divine things, is prompted and guided. It is by him that 
the truth is witnessed, and faith strengthened to receive and 
apply it. It is by him that sin is shown in its true colors, 
and its most just sentence brought home to the personal con- 
viction of the sinner. It is by him that the heart is softened 
to penitence, and the prayer of faith put forth "with groan- 
ings that cannot be uttered." It is by him that God is re- 
vealed as accessible to the penitent through Jesus Christ, 
and hope inspired through his prevailing intercession. It is 
by him that the tilings which are Christ's — the atonement 
of his death, the power of his resurrection, and the grace of 
his mediatorial kingdom — are taken and showed unto us. It 
is by him that these unspeakable gifts of the mercy of God 
and the love of Christ, are applied to the peace and comfort 
of the soul, through the faith of the operation of God, and 
thus is the message of the gospel of God concerning his Son 
Jesus Christ our Lord made life and power to all who give 
it the attention it deserves; while to the thoughtless and un- 
concerned, to the dissolute and worldly minded, who never 
carry forward their thoughts to the aAvful realities of death 
and judgment, who are so occupied with time that they for- 
get eternity, who turn a deaf ear to the warnings of God's 
word, and stifle the misgivings and convictions of their own 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST, 175 

consciences, the voice of God within them, — these things,, 
though known and understood in some degree, are yet mere 
speculations of something distant and fortuitous, not near and 
dear realities on which peace and comfort in time, and hap- 
piness in eternity, unchangeably depend. And thus do we 
see, my brethren and hearers, how want of consideration bars 
us out from the very entrance of religion; how it stops up all 
the avenues by which saving truth might reach the heart, 
and spreads the darkening vail of unbelief over our own 
wants and heaven's mercies. Especially do we see how it 
blinds the mind to the efficacy, sufficiency, and necessity of 
Jesus Christ to the hope of a sinner or the acceptance of a 
saint — and why it is, that under the clear light of the gospel 
the compassionate reproach of our blessed Lord to his then 
hearers, contained in my text, "Ye will not come to me, that 
ye might have life," can yet be addressed to such multitudes 
in every Christian land — why in this little congregation there 
are so many who care for none of these things. Alas! "Is- 
rael doth not know, my people doth not consider," and there- 
fore it is that they will none of me. But whom else will you 
have? within the bound of thought is there any thing that 
can fill the desires of an immortal spirit but God only? And 
will you carelessly remain ignorant of him and of all his 
plans of mercy and love for your good? or, knowing them by 
the hearing of the ear, will you cast them under your feet, 
and madly rush upon destruction? Yet this is what too surely 
awaits you if you give no care to the thought of your souls. 
You may say, in the levity of your minds and the blindness 
of your heart, We feel no want, we experience no uneasiness 
or injury to the pursuits we are engaged in, from the absence 
of religion — we perceive no need of Jesus Christ to our hap- 
piness, nor is there any "form or comeliness" in him "that 
we should desire him." Alas! I know it is even so, for I 
have been as you are, and may God awaken you. But, ne- 
vertheless, your want remaineth — in alienation from God, 
opposition to his holy nature, and unfitness for his holy pre- 
sence — while death is drawing nearer and nearer every day 
to transmit you to his righteous judgment. 0, ask your- 
selves, are you prepared for it; have you an answer ready 
for the searcher of hearts, as you have for your own con- 



176 THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 

sciences; have you one that he will be quieted with, that you 
know he will accept? Alas! were the real truth known, there 
are moments when you dare not trust to it yourselves, when 
you feel that all is not right, when something whispers in 
your heart — There is another life, there is a God, there is a 
judgment day, there is a heaven, there is a hell! O let it 
now take possession of your most serious thought, and carry 
you out to that full and faithful examination of the claims of 
religion, of your own want and sinfulness, of the means and 
mercy provided for you in the gospel, which you have hith- 
erto neglected. And let me tell you tor your encourage- 
ment, that among those means you will find a Saviour, just 
such as your soul would desire, who has redeemed you to 
God by his own blood, who has called you to the hope of the 
gospel, who ever liveth to make intercession for you, who 
invites you to come to him for pardon, peace, and eternal 
life, and who, this day, meets all your obstinate disregard 
and contempt of his merciful long suffering, not with wrath 
and vengeance, but witli the mild and gracious reproof, "ye 
will not come to me, that ye might have life." 

But let me also warn you, my friends, it will not be always 
thus. There is a limit to the long suffering even of God; 
there is to every individual under the gospel a day of grace, 
within which the door of mercy stands open for his return, 
but beyond which, it is for ever barred against him. Re- 
member the foolish virgins, who slumbered and slept until 
their nil was all consumed; they went and bought more, lit up 
their lamps and came and knocked, but found no admittance. 

I thought when I began, my brethren, to have gone on 
with an enumeration of those particular hindrances which 
prevent men from coming to Christ, such as unbelief, self- 
rigliteousness, love of the world, false notions of the mercy 
of God, procrastination, and, what lies at the root of all the 
rest, the carnal mind, the naturally hostile disposition of eve- 
ry fallen creature against the holiness of God. 

But as all these, with the exception of the last named, 
either originate in want of consideration, or are increased in 
their power over us, by carelessly shutting our eyes against 
the light, it would be needless repetition to go over them 
separately. It being evident to the plainest mind, that un* 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 177 

belief can never stand against the sincere and honest exami- 
nation of revelation and its proofs, the serious consideration of 
the nature of God, and the condition of man; that self-righteous- 
ness can have no place in that man who has studied himself 
even slightly; that there can be no gain in giving our im- 
mortal souls in exchange for that which we cannot keep even 
if we had it; that the mercy of God is made known to us that 
he may be feared and sought unto, not that he may be trifled 
with and mocked; and that to beings who know not what a 
day may bring forth, to put in the distance the awful con- 
cerns of death, judgment, and eternity, is the foolishness of 
folly and madness. • 

With respect to the carnal mind, the original corruption 
of our nature, I would say a few words. While it is admit- 
ted that no extent or seriousness of consideration is compe- 
tent to remove this taint and infection of sin, that being the 
prerogative of the Holt Spirit only; certain it is, that if we 
never consider, that is, reflect seriously, on our state, our 
chains will be riveted the faster, and our hereditary enmity 
to God increased. 

Whereas by meeting what is presented to us, on the high 
authority of a message from God, with the care and attention 
it deserves, we obtain not only the knowledge and confirma- 
tion of a most dangerous and fatal disease, but are furnished 
with a sovereign remedy against it, are directed to the great 
physician of souls, encouraged to take the medicine he pre- 
scribes, and watched over and nursed under its operation by 
his Holt Spirit, to the entire renovation of our nature, the 
fruit being unto holiness and the end everlasting life. 

H. Secondly, I am to show you in what manner we must 
come to him to obtain this blessing. 

To understand this aright, we must consider who Jesus 
Christ was, what he did, and what he did it for, together 
with what he is now. Our only authority, therefore — 'the 
Bible — informs us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, one 
with the Father from all eternitv; that he came to this world, 
took upon him our mortal nature, and appeared in the lowly 
condition of a servant. In this state he spent a life of toil, 
privation, and suffering, was "a man of sorrows and acquaint- 
ed with grief;" that after preaching the gospel and instruct- 



ITS 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 



ing mankind, both by precept and example, in that pure re- 
ligion he came to establish in the world, he suffered himself 
to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and submitted 
to a most cruel and ignominious death upon the cross. But 
why did he submit to all this? The same authority informs 
us, that it was all for man, and for man's salvation; to redeem 
us from the curse of the law, broken by sin, he was content 
to be made a curse for us; to reconcile God to his creatures, 
he bore our sins in his own body on the tree; by shedding 
his own most precious blood he atoned for the guilt of sin, 
and he submitted to death to purchase eternal life for all who 
believe and obey him. Having thus fulfilled the will of the 
Father, and finished the work he had given him to do, he 
rose from the dead, ascended up on high, led captivity cap- 
tive, and received gifts for man, pardon of sin, restoration to 
God's favor, and the Holt Spirit to renew them to repent- 
ance, to give them the victory over sin and death, and pre- 
pare them for heavenly glory and eternal life; and he is now 
exalted to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, all 
things in heaven and in earth being put in subjection under 
hirn, where he ever liveth to watch over his Church and peo- 
ple, to extend the gospel in the world, to accomplish the 
number of his elect, to guide them through the trials of time, 
and, when all shall be concluded, to raise up their mortal 
bodies by his Spirit dwelling in them to meet the judgment 
of the great day, and to be rewarded or punished everlast- 
ingly, according to the conditions of the gospel now preached 
unto them. And thus are we led to see with what disposi- 
tions of mind, in what way and manner, we are to come to 
this ever blessed, all powerful, and most merciful Redeemer, 
that we may have life. 

The first thing, therefore, w T e should be sensible of, and 
that most deeply, is, that sin is that dreadful and destructive 
evil the Bible describes it to be — eternally opposed to all 
God's perfections, eternally hated of him, and justly deserv- 
ing his everlasting wrath. Which is demonstrated to us by 
his exacting from his only begotten Son the penalty due to 
it by the justice of his holy law, to prepare the way for its 
pardon. 

iNext, a humbling sense of our own many and grievous 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 179 

offences against God, both in thought, word and deed — with a 
true and genuine sorrow for our ingratitude and baseness 
against our Creator and Benefactor. There is indeed a sor- 
row of the world which worketh death, by being mistaken 
for that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto life. 
And herein lies the distinction: What is denominated the 
sorrow of the w r orld, springs from the present consequences 
of the particular sin or sins upon ourselves, and would never 
have been felt, had no disappointment or suffering followed. 
But godly sorrow, true contrition for sin, has respect to the 
offence as against God. "Against thee, thee only, have I 
sinned," says David, making his confession to God, even in 
as heinous crimes as adultery and murder, committed against 
his neighbor. And herein is the worth and efficacy of the 
one over the other manifested, inasmuch as godly sorrow for 
sin always includes the ill done to our neighbor — for without 
reparation and restitution where either is possible, there is 
no true repentance. Whereas the sorrow of the world has no 
respect whatever to the offence as against God, but is en- 
tirely personal and selfish. 

A third disposition of mind is a true hatred of sin, and an 
instant forsaking of it in all its practices, with a hungering 
and thirsting after righteousness. "Cease to do evil, learn 
to do well." "Make me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a 
right spirit within me." 

Lastly, a complete sense of our own helplessness and in- 
sufficiency, with a humble, yet confident reliance on the 
promised mercy of God, and the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. "Ye are saved by grace, through faith." "Our suf- 
ficiency is of God." "Without me ye can do nothing." "My 
grace is sufficient for thee." 

With such views and such dispositions of mind, let us come 
to the Lord Jesus Christ for the two blessings we all stand 
in need of — mercy to cover our sins, negligences and igno- 
rances; and grace to renew our hearts daily before him in 
righteousness. Let us come to him "drawing near with true 
hearts, in full assurance of faith," encouraged by his most 
gracious invitation. "Come unto me all ye that are weary 
and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." These words are 
the full warrant for every sinner to break the chains of his 



180 THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 

bondage to death, and come to the Lord Jesus, that he may 
have life. And O, that while "the Spirit and the bride also 
say come, he that heareth" may say — I come! "and he that 
is athirst" may "come, and take of the water of life freely." 

I come now to make a short application of the subject, and 
of what has been said upon it. 

First, to those who come not: 

I wonder if any who are present in this dangerous con- 
dition, could give an answer to — Why do you not come? Can 
you plead ignorance of the message and its infinite impor- 
tance to your souls? Surely none present can say so. "Will 
you say that the invitation has never been made to you? God 
is my witness, that I have not failed for the space of seven 
years to press it upon you in every shape I could devise. 
Must it noj be, then, for the reason given by our Lord, in my 
text; Ye will not come? Ye do resist the Holy Ghost then, 
and what must the end be of them who put offered salvation 
from them? But you will say, we have never thought of 
these things, we have not considered them. This I believe, 
and therefore have I pressed this duty upon you to-day. I 
trust there is no settled hostility to religion in any of you; but 
in the mean time, life is wasting apace, and carelessness is 
just as dangerous as unbelief — for as faith cometh by hearing, 
so does application to Jesus Christ, and all the blessed effects 
of religion, flow from considering carefully what we hear. 
Of this, what is set forth for our learning in the Scriptures is 
one continued proof. You say you have not considered these 
things. And was it not just so before the flood, under the 
preaching of Noah? But did they continue thoughtless and 
unconcerned, think ye, when they saw the waters begin to 
rise and pursue them from hill to mountain? Or did they 
curse the carelessness and security which thus betrayed them 
to destruction? And how will it be with you, continuing 
thus, when death knocks at the door of your chamber, when 
your reviving bodies hear the sound of the last trumpet, when 
you see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, the 
frame of nature dissolving, the judgment set, the books 
opened, the universe assembled, and the sentence of eternal 
death about to be passed on "all who know not God and obey 
not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?" 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHRIST. 181 

Did not Sodom also and the cities of the plain exhibit an 
instance of the same careless indifference and want of thought? 
While Lot warned and exhorted, they danced, they sung, 
they feasted and made merry; they bought, they sold, and 
laid themselves out for the world, till the day that God rained 
fire and brimstone upon them from heaven, and took them 
off in the pride of their hearts and ripeness of their sins, to 
the fire that never shall be quenched. And does not our Lord 
say that it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment for 
Sodom and Gomorrah than for careless, delaying gospel 
sinners? 

But, perhaps, as it is becoming fashionable, you will say 
you do not believe these things. And, what then; "shall your 
unbelief make the truth of God of none effect?" When the 
minister of God earnestly warns you of these things do you 
say we do not believe him? But upon what grounds do you 
refuse to believe him? You confess that you have not con- 
sidered them, and, therefore, cannot be competent to decide 
their truth or falsehood. O deceive not your own souls, but 
say at once, we will not believe them, for that is the real 
truth. And was it not just so when Noah preached, and Lot 
warned, and the Boman armies encompassed Jerusalem? But 
did the water, or the fire, or the sword, therefore, stay their 
vengeance, and are not all these expressly set forth to us as 
types and representations of that great and dreadful day 
when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in 
flaming fire to punish the ungodly? 

When eternity is thus at issue, shall any who have souls 
to be saved continue careless? shall youth think it too soon, 
manhood be too much occupied with the world, or old age 
think it too late, to come to Christ? a vain thing to consider 
and lay to heart the things which make for their peace? God 
forbid. To the young in particular I would now speak, and 
through them to every age. 

To you, then, who build upon your youth as an excuse for 
the neglect of religion, I would put but one question, to show 
you the danger of such presumptuous procrastination. Have 
you made a covenant with death, or received from the Al- 
mighty an assurance, of long life? If not, whence this blind- 
ness to the common experience of mankind? Do the young, 



1S2 THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CHKIST. 

and the healthy, and the robust never die? Or is not death 
busier with our early years than with all the rest? O forget 
not, rny young friends, that it is only here one and there 
another, that comes to old age. Remember the poor man 
who said to his soul — "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up 
for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." 
But in the midst of his security God said unto him, "Thou 
fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee" — and ap- 
ply it as a solemn warning to all who put off coming to 
Christ on the presumption that it is time enough yet, or from 
a love of the company, the amusements, the pleasures or the 
business of the world. You may fancy you are happy, my 
young friends; you may flatter yourselves with many years, 
and in present enjoyment drown the claims of your God and 
Saviour upon your souls; but all this must come to an end. 
And what then? In all this time what preparation is made 
for death, for judgment, for eternity — where is your pardon, 
your interest in Jesus Christ; and without these how will 
you face your last enemy? Oh! what an awful thought it is 
to have to meet death with the fixed conviction that he is but 
the forerunner of the second death, which knows not how to 
die or to escape from eternal misery and despair — that dread- 
ful death from which Jescs now calls you, but you will not 
come to him, that you might have life, even life eternal. That 
miserable death which you now choose in the error of your 
life, in opposition to truth, to reason, to interest, to the mercy 
of God and the love of Christ. Oh! terrible voice of most 
just judgment, which shall then be pronounced upon you, 
when the Lord Jesus, who died to save you, who in this world 
so mercifully invites you to come to him but ye will not, shall 
say unto you — Ye would not come to me, ye would not be 
made holy in time, ye cannot be made happy in eternity — ■ 
Depart, therefore, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared 
for the devil and his angels. 

But, thanks be to God, my brethren, there is a relief from 
this dark and dreary prospect, in the blessedness which awaits 
those who, in this the day of their visitation, come to Jesus 
Christ for life, who learn of him and find rest to their souls. 
From that happy moment they are his peculiar care. The 
power of his providence and the blessings of his grace are 



THE CAUSE OF NOT COMING TO CIIRIST. 183 

all engaged in their behalf. Wisely, but darkly and won- 
derfully sometimes, he orders their course through the world, 
but whether in prosperity or adversity all things are made to 
work together for their good; and in the closing scene of all 
our hopes and fears, he will be found as faithful in his pro- 
mises as in his threatenings. When those who have here re- 
jected him shall be banished for ever from the presence of 
the Lord and the glory of his power, those who have here 
come to him, and have endured unto the end, shall enter into 
the joy of their Lord, into that "inheritance incorruptible 
and undefiled, and which fadeth not away — where there shall 
be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall 
there be any more pain." 

In this blessed hope, dear brethren, let ns purify ourselves, 
even as He is pure. Let us walk worthy of our heavenly 
calling, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all 
things; ascribing to God the Father, whose love and mercy 
provided our deliverance — to God the Son who died to pro- 
cure it, and to God the Holy Ghost who won us over to enjoy 
it — all the glory and praise of our salvation, now and ever,, 
world without end. 






SERMON XVI. 



REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 



Matthew xxi. 87. 

But, last of all, he sent unto them his Son, saying, They will reverence 
my Son. 

The favor and providence of God towards the Jewish Church 
and nation, as being the vineyard he had planted and had 
watered with his heavenly dew — the doctrine of the law and 
of the prophets, with the unfruitful and ungrateful conduct of 
that people — form the groundwork of this parable: In which, 
by a very lively representation of their case, and such as came 
home to the consciences of all who heard it, (for they at once 
united in acknowledging the just retribution due to their un- 
just and rebellious refusal of the rights of the lord of the vine- 
yard, their cruel treatment of his messengers, and avaricious 
murder of his only son, and in deprecating the consequences 
of such conduct,) our blessed Lord endeavored to awaken 
them to a right sense of the enormity of their guilt and im- 
minent danger in slighting and rejecting this last overture of 
heaven's mercy; and in its application to the gospel Church 
to give to Christians in all ages the same warning, the same 
instruction. For what the Jews once were, we now are — the 
Lord's vineyard. "Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's 
building," says St. Paul to the Corinthian Church; and as 
from them, so from us, the owner of the vineyard yet expects 
those fruits, those grateful and obedient returns to his fatherly 
love and abundant goodness, which not only justice but feel- 
ing, sincere love on our part and thankful subjection, should 
lead us to render. But, alas! how much like that of the Jews 
is the present state of the Christian world. How are we be- 
come dead to the peculiar blessings of a state of covenant re- 
lation to God, cold to the continued proofs of his love, and 
insensible to the awful threatenings which are denounced 
against the abuse of his mercies. How is that name which, 

[Vol. 2,— *13.] 



186 REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 

for the suffering of death for us, God hath exalted above every 
name and made the only passport to his favor, and by the 
which we, as Christians, are called — how is it lessened and 
lightly esteemed, and even profaned and blasphemed, and 
the truth of his everlasting word and the convictions of his 
Holy Spirit put aside by us, for the world and its vanities, 
for our own vain conceits and groundless imaginations, as by 
the Jews of old. We cannot, indeed, equal them in infidelity, 
for obvious reasons. We cannot resist the evidence of 
Christ's miracles to our senses, because they are not wrought 
before our eyes. We cannot revile him to his face. We can- 
not crucify him at the gates of Jerusalem. But we can ex- 
ceed their guilt in all these things by resisting the demon- 
stration of the Spirit to the truth of the gospel, the convic- 
tions of our own consciences, the concurring testimony of 
eighteen hundred years, and the actual witness of the state 
of this very people, who are to this day outcasts and unowned^ 
because they disowned the only begotten Son of God as their 
promised Messiah and offered Saviour; and we can and do 
crucify him afresh every hour of the day, and put him to an 
open shame, by leading unchristian lives. This Scripture 
figure, so emphatically applied, by the apostle Paul, to un- 
godly Christians, we are too apt to consider as a mere figure 
of speech, or, what is more common, not to consider it at all. 
But if there is any truth in the promises and thre atenings of 
the gospel — if none whom God is pleased to call to the know- 
ledge uf his grace by the revelation of Jesus Christ, can ex- 
cusably remain neutral, even, to the hopes and duties gvow- 
out of it, to the faith and holiness required by it, then 
should all such most deeply fear incurring tie particular 
guilt thereby denounced, even in a higher degree than those 
very Jews who crucified the Lord of glory. For it cannot 
be said in our behalf as was in theirs, that we do it ignorantly 
in unbelief; every person under the gospel being fully in- 
formed of the person, office, and dignity of Jesus Christ, 
kk thc author and finisher of our faith." 

It may be profitable for us all — both those who profess 
themselves his disciples and those who, though they are 
spared only through his intercession and provided with the 
fineness of his grace to the attainment of eternal life, yet feel 



REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 187 

no sense of what they owe to his love for their souls — to con- 
sider seriously the two following points: 

First, the obligations we are all under to reverence the 
Son of God, as the text expresses it. 

Secondly, in what manner we shall best declare our rev- 
erence of him. 

I. First, then, though the reasons and arguments which 
enforce this obligation are all of the weightiest nature, yet 
the one referred to in the text may properly enough be con- 
sidered the chief. 

The first argument, then, that calls upon us to reverence 
the Son of God, and consequently the message he brought 
us from the Father, is the greatness of his character, the 
superlative dignity of his person. 

It was a most natural expectation in the owner of the vine- 
yard, that his tenants, would show a peculiar regard to the 
last messenger he sent, who, as his only son and of course 
his heir, was next in station and authority to himself. And 
here we may observe, my friends, how exactly the whole 
moral of the parable is made to bear upon the most general 
feelings and reasonings of our own minds, and how it includes 
us all, by the judgment we unhesitatingly pass upon things 
of a far inferior kind. For just as certainly as we should 
consider the refusal of a just claim aggravated in proportion 
to the dignity and importance of the person employed to 
make it, so sure may we be that we condemn ourselves by 
refusing or contemptuously disregarding this last and greatest 
of all God's prophets. And certainly our reverence should 
always be proportioned to the known or supposed importance 
of its object. ISTow beyond all dispute, not only in the dig- 
nity of the messenger but in the importance of the message, 
the gospel far transcends any and every other interest what- 
ever. What, then, say the Scriptures concerning the person 
and character of Christ? for the Scriptures are the only au- 
thority we can safely follow in such an inquiry. 

God, (says St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews,) "who 
in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in 
these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath 
appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the 
worlds, who is the brightness of his glory, and upholdeth all 



188 REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 

things by the word of his power, who is made so much better 
than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more 
excellent name than they." And here let me observe, that 
we have a most express declaration of this apostle to the di- 
vinity of our blessed Saviour; he not only declares his supe- 
riority to the angels, but refers that superiority to a cause 
perfectly distinct from any act of creation, to-wit, to an in- 
herited and consequently inherent superiority; than which 
no other mode of expression could better have conveyed to 
our limited understandings the true and plain meaning of 
that fundamental article of the Christian faith, "the Son of 
God, begotten, not made." So likewise, in writing to the 
Colossians, this same apostle styles Christ "the image of 
the invisible God," and tells us, that by him "God created 
all things whether in heaven or in earth;" and St. John — who 
wrote the last of all the apostles, and lived to hear the divinity 
of his adorable master doubted and denied — to meet this 
damnable heresy, declares in the outset of his gospel, "In the 
beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and 
the word was God; the word was made flesh and dwelt among 
us; he came unto his own and his own received him not." 

Now these passages of Scripture, with many others to the 
same purpose, though they do not explain to us the formal 
nature or essential being of this Son of God — a subject which, 
with our present faculties, we could not be made to compre- 
hend, neither are we in the smallest degree concerned to 
know it; — yet they teach us what is abundantly sufficient as 
well as perfectly intelligible, namely, that his character is 
supremely excellent, his dignity supremely eminent, far 
above the numberless orders of beings in the universe; which 
is unanswerably a most sufficient argument why we should 
pay him the profoundest reverence. 

Secondly, we are further bound to reverence this heavenly 
messenger, from the importance of the message itself wiih 
which he was sent into the world. Now let us ask ourselves 
whether any other than an affair of the highest moment could 
have induced the Almighty Father to employ in the execu- 
tion of it so exalted a personage? Why, our own principles 
of reasoning and acting will answer the question; and in 
truth, it was nothing less than our eternal salvation, which 



REVERENCE OF CHKIST. 189 

infinite •wisdom saw could no otherwise consistently be pro- 
vided for, and which infinite love undertook to perform. It 
was to purchase life for condemned sinners; to reconcile a 
rebel world to a justly offended sovereign; to make satisfac- 
tion to his violated law, by suffering the penalty therein de- 
nounced against every transgression and transgressor of it. 
It was to command us to forsake our sins — and to assure us 
of the divine mercy if we did so; to instruct us in pure and 
undefiled religion, and to engage us to all the duties we owe 
to God and to each other, by the clear revelation of a future 
state, to be adjudged to each one of us for everlasting happi- 
ness or misery, according to the deeds done in this body. 
For all which purposes it was necessary that a body should 
be prepared for this heavenly messenger, that in the familiar 
converse of our nature he might teach us, set us an example 
of patience, submission, and holiness, to follow, and, in the 
very nature which had sinned, offer a full, perfect, and suffi- 
cient atonement and propitiation for the sins of the whole 
world by his death upon the cross. 

Let the importance, therefore, of the errand on which the 
Son of God came to us, the vital importance of it especially 
to each man's individual concern, be a fresh argument and a 
prevailing reason for paying him that veneration — may I not 
say that grateful sense of benefits conferred — to which he 
has so just a claim. "Therefore let us give the more earnest 
heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we 
should let them slip. For if the word .spoken by angels was 
steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense, 
how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation," wrought 
out for and communicated to us, not by angels, but by the 
Lord of angels? 

Thirdly, all our obligations to reverence the Son of God 
are increased and completed by the consideration that he is 
the last messenger, and his message the last overture, heaven 
will send us. "Last of all," says the parable, "he sent unto 
them his Son," which might serve to convince us that God 
intends no further or other means of salvation for us than 
that made known by his Son. And surely if this is not suf- 
ficient, no other that even infinite wisdom could devise, 
would prevail with us. For more gracious terms of recon- 



190 REVERBNCE OF CHEIST. 

ciliation, a more dignified or powerful intercessor, clearer 
instructions in onr duty, or more glorious rewards or fearful 
punishments, for the performance or neglect of it, are not 
within the range of possible expectation. Let no one, there- 
fore, deceive himself either with vain words or more vain 
hopes. Let no one vainly expect that another Son will come 
to us from the offended Father, or that we can come again 
to him otherwise than by and through this Son whom he 
hath sent. No, my brethren and hearers, it is the last time, 
the last offer of his mercv, the last trial of our l'everence and 
obedience; and if this be slighted "there remaineth no more" 
or other "sacrifice for sins, out a certain fearful looking for 
of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall consume the 
adversaries." 

When the husbandmen in the parable had refused submis- 
sion to their master's son, there was nothing left but to pun- 
ish the aggravated guilt of all their former wickedness, and 
utterly to expel them from the vineyard. "What, then, will 
the Lord of the vineyard do to those husbandmen," is the 
question which each one of us should put to ourselves, as re- 
spects the gospel; and the answer stands ready recorded, with 
which the equity of our own minds accords: "He will mise- 
rably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard 
to others, who shall render him the fruits in their season." 
This very vineyard is now let out to us, my hearers, and wo 
be unto us if we take not warning by the fate of those who 
were cast out for refusing him who came to redeem and 
save- them. 

Such being our obligations to reverence the Son of God, I 
am to inquire, 

U. Secondly, in what manner we shall best declare our 
reverence of him; that is, with what disposition of mind, with 
what course of external behaviour, we shall most truly man- 
ifest our reverence and regard for him and the message he 
came to deliver to us. 

Now the first step towards a due veneration of Christ and 
his religion, is, seriously to consider what in truth it is, the 
purpose it is to answer, and our need of such effectual help. 
To drown such a reasonable duty, either in the cares or the 
pleasures of life, or by the shorter process of unbelief; to dis- 



\ 



REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 191 

miss the claims of our souls, and join the great multitude , 
who live here as if there were no hereafter — no God, no Sa- 
viour, no heaven, no hell; or, if they acknowledge God and 
a future state, yet will take no pains to ascertain whether he 
has spoken to us, and what he has said concerning our future 
interests, but risk their eternal all upon the sandy foundation 
of some notion of their own shallow conceptions — why what 
is this but to count ourselves, and to show that we are, un- 
worthy of that eternal life to which, nevertheless, we vainly 
hope to come. My hearers, "see that ye refuse not him that 
speaketh from heaven," for it is a, complete bar, while it is 
persisted in, to all religious advancement, to all sense of fa- 
vor conferred on us through him, to any regard for his per- 
son, or interest in the mercy he hath purchased for a world 
of sinners; it dries up the very springs of faith and love in 
our hearts, for the source of all gratitude is the remembrance 
of our benefactors, of the favors we have received from them. 
And it is infinitely more owing to inattention than to igno- 
rance, that men are so little moved with the arguments of 
religion, so little affected, so slightly influenced by them. 

We too seldom consider the dignified character of that Son 
of God who was sent to us by the Father, or the commanding 
nature of the business on which he was sent, and of course 
forget and become dead to the regards we owe to his person, 
as well as his office. Whereas if these subjects were made 
familiar to our thoughts, and thus came to possess our hearts, 
which they would surely soon do, they could not fail to pro- 
duce those outward expressions of reverence, and that con- 
scientious care to fulfil our duties, which is the only evidence 
of the religious principle being formed within us. 

It was certainly upon this principle that our blessed Lord 
originally instituted the sacrament of the last supper, which 
was designed to cherish and keep alive, in the minds of his 
disciples, the remembrance of himself, of his ministry upon 
earth, of the relation he bears to them, of the great things he 
did and suffered for them, as the proper foundation of that 
practical reverence and regard they are to pay him "in all 
holy conversation and godliness," after the bright example 
he hath set them. 

Now you are all called and invited to become his discrples, 



192 



REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 



and to learn of him; you have all of you sufficient leisure to 
think on these all important subjects, even at home in your 
own houses, and with your families; but especially by meet- 
ing together for public worship, are they presented and 
pressed upon you. Do not, therefore, waste that leisure in 
careless indolence or sinful idleness, or make a preached gos- 
pel the savor of death to your souls, but wisely improve 
every opportunity Goo affords you, to bring your heart more 
and more under the influence of revealed truth, and your life 
under the law of faith. This is the fruit which the Lord of 
the vineyard requires, and which alone he will accept at your 
hands. 

Had the husbandmen in the parable rightly considered 
who the last messenger was their master sent to them, how 
just the demand he came to make of them, what forbearance 
and indulgence the Father had already showed them, with 
the consequences that must inevitably follow, if they per- 
sisted in their rebellion — had they reflected at all on these 
things, they would doubtless have repented of their past ini- 
qui;v, and received him with becoming marks of humiliation 
and sorrow. But, alas! they did not give themselves time to 
reflect; as soon as they saw him they determined to murder 
hi in. "This is the heir, come let us kill him and seize on his 
inheritance." And thus do unreflecting sinners "deny the 
Lord that bought them," and, full of themselves, and ripe in 
rebellion, turn away from the word of the truth of the gos- 
pel, beholding no form or comeliness in Jesus Christ, that 
they should desire him. 

Secondly, we must show our reverence for the Son of Goj> 
and For the gospel which he brought to us from his Father, 
not oid}' by having and maintaining an habitual sense of its 
excellence and importance in our minds, together with the 
practice of its duties in our lives, but, also, by being earnest 
for its credit and advancement in the world, beginning with 
our families and branching out as far as ability and oppor- 
tunity serve. This will lead us to avoid the company and 
fellowship of all persons who, like Solomon's fools, "make a 
mock at sin," or treat religion scornfully, or who speak irre- 
verently of Goo, profaning his holy name, or lightly or dis- 
respectfully of our Maker and only Saviour Jesus Christ. 



REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 193 

Especially will it lead us to be watchful against all such 
abominations in our own families. 

The very sound of profligate, profane discourse, damps 
that reverence for sacred subjects which almost every crea- 
ture feels, until corrupted by some such wicked art. "With 
respect to young people more especially, the effect is dread- 
ful. It destroys their native diffidence, sows the seeds of 
impiety in their tender minds, draws out the latent hostility 
of the carnal mind to God, and is often the first cause of 
their everlasting ruin. Indeed, to those who are more ad- 
vanced in life the influence of such associates is always more 
or less injurious; for there is an insensible conformity in the 
thoughts, words, and actions of those who live much together, 
which marks distinctly the tenor of their conversation in life. 

Let us imagine a number of men in a similar situation with 
the husbandmen in the parable. Let us moreover suppose 
that only some of them had a design to abuse their master in 
the manner there described, and that these wanted to bring 
the others over to their schemes. They would naturally be- 
gin with arguing them into a contempt for their master, ma- 
king light of his authority and power to punish, ridiculing 
their fears, scoffing at a danger so remote, and inflaming 
their passions with the present enjoyments and advantages 
their crime would put them in possession of. By which 
means they would not only harden themselves, but gradually 
infuse their poison into the hearts of the better disposed, un- 
til they were all mad enough to join in any desperate pro- 
ject. In like manner does it come to pass in the world, 
where the young, and thoughtless, and comparatively inno- 
cent, are exposed to the contagious company of the profane 
or practical despisers of Christ and his gospel. The impious 
jest, the well-turned ridicule, the bold unbelief, the cool de- 
fiance of heaven and hell, manifested by such persons, grad- 
ually overcome the guards both of nature and grace, set the 
passions in a flame, and by magnifying the pleasures of a 
life set free from the restraints of religion, tempt them to 
pluck the forbidden fruit, and to become as miserable as 
their tempters. And shall no voice be lifted up in behalf of 
the young and rising hope of this gospel land, and ring in 
the ears of professing parents their bounden duty in this re- 



19i REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 

t 

spect? Yes, my brethren, there shall be one, who, however 
lightly esteemed, shall not fail fearlessly to counsel you to 
shutyour doors against the irreligious and ungodly, however 
amiable their manners or pleasing their conversation; for the 
master whom they serve is ever on the watch to prompt and 
to give the opportunity to counteract your pious care, and to 
sow those bitter seeds whose certain fruit is weeping, and 
wailing, and gnashing of teeth. 

Thirdly and lastly, the strongest proof we can give of our 
reverence for the Son of God will be, sincerely and thank- 
fully to own and acknowledge him in all the dignity of his 
character, faithfully to obey his laws, and diligently to copy 
the bright example he hath left us. 

It is set forth to us in the parable, my hearers, that the 
business on which the servants, and last of all the son him- 
self, was sent, was to receive the fruits of the vineyard. In 
like manner it is required of us to render to our Master and 
only Saviour Jesus Christ, those fruits of the gospel which 
it was designed to produce in us. Now by those fruits the 
Scriptures universally mean, the good influence which reli- 
gion has upon our conduct in life, in the exercise of faith, 
hope, and charity. Teaching us that a holy and righteous 
conversation in the world is as essential to the character of 
a Christian, as the production of its proper fruit is to the 
value of a tree in your garden; and as every such tree that 
bears no fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire, so will 
God finally destroy every man who openly disclaims the gos- 
pel, or who pretends to be religious while he is barren of 
good works. 

And is this the unalterable truth of heaven's unchangeable 
decree? Then God be merciful to this barren gospel land — 
God be merciful to the thousands who hear the joyful sound 
of salvation through the Son of God, yet are like the deaf 
adder which will not be charmed. God be merciful to those 
who, led away with the error of the wicked, openly "deny 
the Lord who bought them," and not only refuse the fruits 
in their season, but join in casting out the heir, and would 
dethrone him from the glory he had with the Father before 
the world was. And God be merciful to his people, and to 
his little flock in this portion of his vineyard, and keep them 



REVERENCE OF CHRIST. 195 

by his mighty power, through faith, unto salvation. Dear 
brethren, let us manifest our reverence for our blessed Lord 
by a yet more earnest rendering to him of the fruits of that 
love, trust, and obedience, we profess to him. In this day 
of rebuke and blasphemy, when the love of many has waxed 
cold, let us cleave to our first love, and, honoring the Son 
even as we honor the Father, make all men see "what is the 
fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the 
world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus 
Christ, in whom we have boldness and access with confi- 
dence, by the faith of him." "For this cause I bow my knees 
unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole 
family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant 
you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened 
with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may 
dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and 
grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints 
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and 
to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that 
ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." 

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly 
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that 
worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Jesus 
Christ throughout all ages, world without end." Amen. 



SERMON XVII. 



CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 



Matthew x. 32, 33. 

Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also 
before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before 
men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 

"O that they were wise, that they understood this, that 
they would consider their latter end," was the earnest and 
affectionate apostrophe of Moses to the Israelites, under the 
prophectic view which he had of their defection from God, in 
becoming indifferent and insensible to the wonders, provi- 
dences, and judgments, by which they were declared his 
peculiar people. And is there not occasion, my brethren and 
hearers, for a surprise and a concern of an equally impressive 
character, when we look round on the state and condition of 
this gospel land, and behold the multitudes, who, dismissing 
from their consideration the claims of Jesus Christ to their 
love, veneration and obedience, live here as if hereafter had 
no account to settle with them individually, and eternity no 
retributions commensurate with its everlasting nature? Is it 
not a heart-sinking prospect to survey any assembly of Chris- 
tian people, and count up what a small proportion of them 
are known, even by outward jurofession, as the disciples of 
Christ, or have, in any shape whatever, brought themselves 
within the terms upon which alone heaven offers its mercy 
and proposes its rewards to our fallen race? to behold the 
thousands who, from infancy even to grey hairs, have had it 
ruug in their ears, that there is but one only name and means 
under heaven for men to betake themselves to for reconcili- 
ation with God, yet are, nevertheless, trifling away their little 
and daily shortening span of being in the frivolous vanities 
and insipid dissipations of folly and fashion; or, more gravely 
occupied, are exclusively devoted to the god of this world, 
and the portion he has to bestow; or, still more shamefully 



i~ 



19S CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 

abandoned, defy heaven's King with their daily blasphemies, 
and outrage even the decency of a world that lieth in wicked- 
ness, by the grossness of their impiety? Alas! my hearers, is 
this picture overcharged, or is the record too true to be falsified 
by all the subterfuges of lies which the practical deniers of 
Christ and his gospel, of God and his Son, resort to, to hide 
from themselves the direct and positive bearing of the awful 
declaration contained in my text? If the offer of mercy to 
sinners is limited by conditions to be performed on their part, 
and the conditions themselves be openly and clearly pro- 
pounded in the offer, then must this mighty question be with- 
in the reach of every man's determination who has access to 
the record; and if among those conditions there should be one 
paramount, to which all the others are subordinate and con- 
sequential, then must it be still more readily determined to 
which of the two grand divisions of this world's population 
we belong. To think otherwise of what heaven in its mercy 
and wisdom hath revealed to us, for our government and di- 
rection, for our comfort and assurance, is to defeat the whole 
gracious plan of man's salvation, to throw the veil of mystery 
over what is plain and practical, and by our own act to bring 
a cloud over that Sun of Righteousness which hath arisen 
upon the world with healing in its wings. Yet experience 
and observation prove to us that it is the case with thousands, 
who, on the gratuitous assumption of a mysteriousness in 
practical religion, settle down either in unbelief, or, what is 
just as fatal, some unwarranted scheme of general mercy 
which is to prove effectual for their eternal happiness, even 
though unsought and unobtained. Hence the carelessness 
and indifference to the gospel and its message of mercy. 
Hence the coldness and deadness to the high interests of 
eternity, and to the 0'ily means whereby to secure its un- 
fading glories, so prevalent in the world; and hence the con- 
temptuous neglect of Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher 
of our faith," which stamps the ungrateful character of man 
■with its most odious feature. 

Had such persons, indeed, never heard the worcb of my 
text; had they no knowledge of the nature and office of Him 
who uttered them, the case were different. But, alas! it is 
u r 't so. They have grown up under the sound of the gospel; 



CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 199 

thousands of times has it been propounded to them, and 
their consciences have borne witness to its truth, but they 
have put it away from them; they have seen of all descrip- 
tions of persons, from the most gifted and cultivated grade 
of intellect down to the poorest and most illiterate of their 
fellows, brought under the influence of Christ's religion, and 
counting it their highest privilege to confess the name of 
Jesus, not only under the favorable circumstances of estab- 
lished Christianity, but in the face of tortures and death, as 
their only but all sufficient hope and assurance of eternal 
life. These things have they seen and known, but alas! they 
have not considered them; like the Israelites of old, they 
have never brought them to bear upon the deep anxieties of 
a dying bed, upon the eternal interests of an immortal soul 
about to appear before its Judge laden with sin. 

But, my hearers, "we must all stand before the judgment 
seat of Christ." He is not only offered as our Saviour, but 
is constituted our Judge. As he hath bought and ransomed 
us, so will he alone determine our everlasting condition ac- 
cording to that unchangeable word which he hath spoken 
unto us. In that word you hear it declared by the Judge of 
quick and dead, that on the confession or denial of the Lord 
Jesus Christ by us in this world will depend our condition 
in the world to come. Very immediate, therefore, is the 
interest which we all have in settling what is comprised in 
this Christian duty, lest in the most trying moment which 
either time or eternity shall ever witness, we find our expec- 
tations disappointed, our hopes confounded, and all the day 
dreams of our own righteousness and of God's mercy swept 
away by the irreversible "I never knew you" of our righteous 
judge. 

I shall, therefore, endeavor to show you what we are to 
understand by the terms confess and deny, as here used by 
our Lord Jesus Christ, and then conclude with some practi- 
cal inferences from the subject. Not, my friends, that there 
is one among you to whom the very sound of the words 
does not convey the awful import of their meaning and ap- 
plication to your individual state and condition, as respects 
the account you have to give in for all God's mercies, and 
especially for the grace of the gospel — no — but if, happily, 



200 CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 

through God's good blessing, I may win some of you over to 
count the cost at which you sacrifice to the world the present 
peace and solid comfort of the gospel, and the future ac- 
knowledgment of him who is Kino; of kings, and Lord of lords. 

"Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him 
will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But 
whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny 
before my Father which is in heaven." 

In common speech, to confess or deny means, to acknow- 
ledge or disown something that is affirmed or offered; and 
though the words as used in my text might with perfect 
safety be thus limited in their application, seeing the gospel 
is the record of the testimony which God hath given to the 
world concerning the person and office of Jesus Christ; yet 
in the language and usage of Scripture, they carry with them 
a more extended and inclusive meaning, involving not only 
acknowledgment or denial, but acceptance and rejection 
likewise, together with the temper and disposition of mind 
with which we act. Hence, to comprehend the full force of 
this passage of Scripture, we must bear in mind what it is 
that is proposed to us, to be acknowledged or disowned, re- 
ceived or rejected, with the ground or reason on which the 
proposition is constructed. Now, as this involves the whole 
of that revelation which God has made to us, it includes our 
entire acceptance or rejection of it. In this no qualification 
whatever can be admitted, not only because of its author, but 
because each part is so connected and interwoven with all 
the rest, that the minutest and apparently most unimportant 
circumstance could not be withdrawn without injuriously af- 
fecting the whole. In the most extended sense of the text, 
therefore, to confess Jesus Christ is, with a thankful believ- 
ing spirit to embrace the message of mercy God hath sent to 
us by him as the foundation of our faith, the ground of our 
hope, and the rule of our life. While actually to reject reve- 
lation, or carelessly to neglect the mighty interests therein 
made known to us, is in the same sense to deny him, to treat 
with contempt the condescending interposition of heaven in 
our behalf, and to bar ourselves out from any possible benefit 
from this great salvation. 

To set forth, however, more at large, the particulars in 



CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 201 

which the confession of Jesus Christ mentioned in my text 
consists, we must observe, 

First, that it includes the acknowledgment of his divine 
nature — "Immanuel, God with us," or in our nature; that is 
to say, that the Second Person in the Trinity emptied him- 
self of his essential glory, had a body prepared for him, and 
came down from heaven to this ruined world, to complete the 
atonement he had undertaken to make for the sins of the 
creature, and redeem fallen man from the curse of the law 
which he had broken, becoming, in consequence, an alien 
and an enemy to God, the slave of sin, and the prey of death 5 
both temporal and eternal. 

This acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as "God over all> 
blessed for ever," is fundamental, my hearers, and lies at the 
very threshold of any and all saving faith. For however 
high our imaginations may soar in the idea of created excel- 
lence — however omnipotent and effectual we admit the will 
of God to be in the choice and appointment of the means to 
the fulfilment of his purposes — still there is a flaw in our 
title to eternal life, my brethren, if he through whom alone 
we hope for it and have even now the assurance of it, hath it 
not in himself. Yes, my hearers, if he who died for my sins 
on Calvary was not God in all his essential properties, cloth- 
ed in my mortal nature, then is there no atonement yet made 
for them adequate to their infinite demerit in the eye of sove- 
reign purity and holiness: I am yet in my sins, I am yet unre- 
deemed, nor will the hope I entertain equal the weight of a 
feather to counterpoise their damning nature. But blessed 
be God, my brethren, it is not so; for "he that believeth hath 
the witness in himself that God hath given to us eternal life, 
and this life is in his Son — and this is his commandment, 
that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the 
Father." 

To disown the deity of the Saviour, then, or to pervert the 
testimony which God the Father hath given of it by God the 
Holy Ghost, or to qualify with any shade of creatureship 
this only foundation of Christian hope, is to deuy the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and just such a denial too, as will render all 
other sin needless to draw from the lips of the glorified Jesus, 
the awful rejection on his part, "I never knew you." O my 

[Vol. 2,— *14.] 



202 CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 

dear brethren' and hearers, be upon your guard against the 
many vain talkers and deceivers, who are once more at work 
to overturn this sure foundation stone of the Catholic faitlr r 
arm yourselves with "the sword of the Spirit," and in the 
"more sure word of prophecy," behold him spoken of both as 
God and man, and, therefore, just such a mediator as our 
case needed, just such a Daj'sman betwixt God and us, as 
might lay his hand upon both in the great controversy of 
this world's rebellion. Cast the anchor of your soul in this 
sure-holding ground, and then let infidelity rage, you shall 
not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, you shall 
not be shaken though high and gifted men set their seal to 
the falsehood; and in a coming day, from which I counsel 
you never to turn away your thoughts, when all the proud, 
and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, then shall the 
"well done my good and faithful servant" of thy Lord and 
thy God, confess and own thee before his Father and the holy 
angels. O glorious and blessed hope. Who that feels it but 
must lift up his voice against this damnable heresy, which 
wrenches from fallen man both time and eternity. 

Secondly, thus owning Jesus Christ as the eternal and 
only begotten Son of God, we must witness this good con- 
fession of him, by openly and heartily embracing the re- 
ligion he hath established in the world, and following the 
holy example he hath set us. 

That this is a reasonable duty, the dignity of his person, 
the nature of his office, and the unspeakable benefits con- 
ferred on us by and through him, demonstrate, independently 
of any future consequences, whether good or bad. What* 
then, let me ask, should be the impressiveness of this duty 
upon our hearts, when we read, as we do in the text, that an 
open profession of Christ's religion before the world is es- 
sential to our reaping any benefit, either here or hereafter, 
by what he hath done and suffered for us. "Whosoever shall 
confess or deny me before men, him will I confess or deny, 
accordingly, before my Father which is in heaven." And is 
it so, my hearers, that simple failure to profess ourselves 
openly to be the disciples of the crucified Jesus, will pass us 
tc the left hand on the great day of eternity? That however 
orderly and exemplary our lives may have been, however 



CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 203 

free from the great and crying enormities of the openly pro- 
fane and ungodly, that however the praise of men may have 
followed us, this one neglect shall stamp us as deniers of God 
and his Christ? Yes, it is so; as surely as heaven is now re- 
cording the thoughts of every heart in this congregation, it is 
so; because the failure, however unimportant it may seem, is 
direct rebellion against heaven's King, and saying in so many 
words "we will not have this man to reign over us." — It is 
so, because it is direct evidence that we are ashamed of the 
gospel of Christ. It is so, because it demonstrates that the 
world, in some of its delusions, has more hold upon our af- 
fections than the honor of God, or the eternal interests of our 
immortal souls. It is so, because it is in pointed disobedience to 
the express command of "the author and finisher of our faith." 
But do the Scriptures speak thus decidedly upon this point? 
Yes, verily. "Wherefore God, also, hath highly exalted 
him, and given him a name which. is above every name, that 
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in 
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and 
that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord 
to the glory of God the Father." "Yet have I set my king 
upon my holy hill of Zion." "Whosoever shall be ashamed 
of me. and of my words, of him shall: the Son of man be 
ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and in his 
Father's, and of the holy angels'." "If any man will be my 
disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and 
follow me." What, then, becomes of the delusion under 
which so many labor, who in the main are not actually op- 
posed to the religion of the gospel, and even cherish some- 
thing like hope towards God through the Lord Jesus Christ, 
whilst they are unknown to any Christian profession? What 
possible excuse can be made for them in this neglect, when 
the man}'- express texts of Scripture which bear upon the 
point are strengthened and enforced by the very nature of 
the subject, and by the positive declaration of our Lord him- 
self, that in the mighty strife between light and darkness,, 
between sin and holiness, between heaven and hell, for our 
souls, there can be no neutrality permitted, we must of neces- 
sity take sides, and that openly, so as to be known as soldiers 
of Jesus Christ, or confederates and servants of the deviL 



204 CONFESSION OF CHEIST. 

"He that is not for me is against me," saith the Saviour, 
"and lie that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Do 
non-professors hear this, and yet continue unconcerned? Do 
the wavering and double minded hear it, and not burst 
through the cobweb excuses which keep them in the verge 
of sin and death? Does the careless and thoughtless sinner, 
who is openly fighting against God, hear it, without realizing 
the inevitable doom that awaits him? Will any plead igno- 
rance of the conditions on which salvation is offered? Why, 
on such an interest as eternity, the very excuse condemns 
him who makes it. Will any one say that they choose and 
prefer damnation? No, not one. Yet they could not take a 
more certain method to ensure it than to "deny the Lord 
that bought them." Oh! what a deep and desperate delu- 
sion has "the god of this world" spread over "the minds of 
them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of 
Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 
Oh! how many amiable and estimable persons there are, of 
whom every thing that is lovely and of good report can be 
witnessed by all who know them, who are yet unknown to 
the Lord Jesus, as confessors of his only saving name. Oh! 
what a death-doing mischief it is, that the men of name 
and note among us, of wealth and influence, of learning and 
leisure, think scorn of confessing the name of Christ, and 
never consider the deadly blow which their descending ex- 
ample inflicts upon religion and morals, and upon the peace 
and order of social life; nor yet of the awful account they 
have to give in, in this respect, for themselves and others. 
"O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they 
would consider their latter end." 

The open and outward confession of the name of Christ, 
though in itself of such importance as to render useless what- 
ever else we do, this being refused, yet is no otherwise ef- 
fectual to our salvation, my hearers, than as it binds us to 
the profession and practice of his religion. Whatever he hath 
dpne and commanded, therefore, that are we to observe and 
do; and this not only once or occasionally, but constantly, 
throughout the whole course of our pilgrimage here. For he 
hath set us an example that we should follow his steps. Here, 
then, my brethren, the whole personal history of Jesus of 



CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 205 

Nazareth is set forth as the model by which we are to frame 
and fashion the course of our lives. Whatever of patient, 
prayerful submission to the will of God was manifested by 
him, must, in our measure and degree, be exemplified by us. 
Whatever of non-conformity to the world, in its vain and 
vicious attractions to power and pleasure; whatever of self- 
denial, humility, meekness, and holiness shone in his conver- 
sation in the world, must mark our course through its temp- 
tations, provocations, and disappointments. Whatever of 
mercy, benevolence, ready forgiveness of injuries, and right- 
eousness in rendering to all their dues, was shown and ob- 
served by him, must also be shown and steadily followed after 
by those who would be his disciples indeed. As he fulfilled 
all the public and private duties enjoined by the Jewish re- 
ligion, so must we be found walking in all the command- 
ments and ordinances of that which he hath established in 
his Church, not only as trials of our obedience, but as means 
of his grace. That these are required of all who name the 
name of Christ, and hope for a share in his heavenly king- 
dom, is clear beyond controversy, as it also is, that only 
through the power and grace of our Redeemer can fallen 
creatures be furnished to fulfil them. How, then, let me ask, 
can those who deny the Saviour, by refusing themselves to 
the profession of his religion and the participation of its ordi- 
nances, the utmost of whose acknowledgment of him is occa- 
sional attendance on the public worship he has instituted, in 
whose families the voice of prayer and praise is unknown — 
how can such, I say, entertain the slightest hope, either of 
grace to perform their duties, or of mercy to obtain accep- 
tance for such poor, broken services as the best of us can 
render? And yet talk with such persons in a more serious 
moment, and you will find a sort of careless unformed reli- 
ance upon Christ and his merits, for their future happiness,. 
or rather for their escape from future misery; or see them at 
the approach of that hour when this world and all its promises 
is about to fail them, and you will find them as busy and as 
earnest in their calls upon the Saviour, as intent upon the 
forlorn hope of a death-bed repentance, as eager to grasp at 
his sufficiency to save, as if the name of Christ acted like a 
charm, and the mighty purpose which brought him from 



206 



CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 



heaven to earth, stretched him upon the cross, and consigned 
him to death, could safely be sported with by the rebels he 
came to redeem. Oh! the deceitfulness of sin. Oh! theper- 
verseness of the unrenewed heart. Oh! the deadly enmity 
of the carnal mind, even against a God of love and salvation. 
Gracious Lord, put forth thy Almighty grace, and quicken 
us all to our duties and privileges as Christians. 

Thirdly, our confession of Jesus Christ must be witnessed 
in the face of persecution, tortures, and death, should we 
thereto be called. "He that loveth father or mother more 
than me, is not worth v of me — and he that loveth son or 
daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. Yea, and he 
that hateth not his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." 
Therefore, "he that" by denying me "findeth his life," or 
any other present good, "shall lose it — and he thatloseth his 
life," or any other present good, "for my sake, shall find it." 
Hence, my brethren and hearers, we may learn to estimate 
the vital importance of an open profession and constant per- 
severence in the faith of the gospel. For if the Christian, 
who, to avoid persecution, concealed his profession, or at the 
stake, overcome by the terrors of a cruel death, and to escape 
from it, denied and renounced his Lord and Master, did by 
persisting in such denial, blot his name out of the book of life, 
how much more shall the same righteous principle sweep into 
perdition those who are either afraid or ashamed to take upon 
them the light and easy yoke which our Redeemer hath laid 
upon us. If, indeed, the fires of persecution were let loose 
upon us, though there could be no excuse, there would be 
more pity and compassion for those who thus barter eternity 
for time. But where neither loss, nor disgrace, nor suffering, 
is to be encountered, how shall we not rather receive greater 
damnation, if we continue to put away from our hearts the 
solemn warning and express condition of my text — "Whoso- 
ever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I con- 
fess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoso- 
ever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before 
my Father which is in heaven." 

In this short passage of Scripture what a wide range of 
thought is opened to us, my friends. Yet through whatever 
varieties of required faith and commanded duty it may lead 



CONFESSION OF CUEIST. 207 

our meditations, it ends in that awful close when an assem- 
bled world shall stand before its Judge, and the confession or 
denial of us, by Jesus Christ, be conclusive to each one for 
happiness or misery eternal. And it binds us down to the 
great master principle by which our acceptance or rejection 
will then be determined — faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for 
pardon, life, and salvation, openly professed, steadfastly per- 
sisted in, and bearing fruit unto holiness. 

What shall we say, then, to these things, my hearers? 
What is the only improvement that we can all make of them? 
Why this — Let us no longer be ashamed of the gospel of 
Christ! "Take" the Redeemer's "yoke upon you" as the 
first and indispensable step to the attainment of his grace, 
for while you refuse to come to him it is in vain to 
expect any help at his hand. "Learn of him" by reading, 
meditation, and prayer; and the teaching of his Holt Spirit 
shall guide you on your way and show you that "all things 
are possible to him that believeth." He will strengthen you 
to overcome the world in the fear of its scoff and in the snare 
of its unh allowed pleasures and pursuits. He will lead you 
through all the wonders of a spiritual change, from faith to 
faith, and from grace to glory, till a "well done" from your 
heavenly Master, Almighty Saviour, and righteous Judge, 
shall crown your repentance and renewed obedience with 
eternal life. 

And you, my professing brethren, whose names are writ- 
ten in the Lamb's book of life, while you take to yourselves 
the holy comfort of his promise in the text, let it arm you 
with strength and engage you with affection to walk worthy 
of it, that being found "in all the commandments and ordi- 
nances of the Lord blameless, your light" may "so shine be- 
fore men" as to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in 
all things." 

Much depends upon your example, my Christian brethren, 
for the praise or reproach of the gospel, for the advancement 
of the Redeemer's kingdom, or the growth of that infidel 
spirit which threatens the downfall of all religion, in the 
casting away of the only hope which heaven in its mercy has 
vouchsafed to fallen man, in the Lord our righteousness. 
Show yourselves, then, a living "epistle" of Christ to be 



208 CONFESSION OF CHRIST. 

"read of all men," in life and conversation conformed to the 
gospel of Christ, and while you encourage yourselves in the 
holy comfort of your "acceptance in the beloved, rejoice with 
trembling," for you are yet on trial, and he who hath promised 
to confess you before God warns you "that not every one 
that saith to" him "Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom 
of heaven, but he that doeth the will of his Father which is 
in heaven." Of doino; that will our blessed Saviour hath set 
us a most pure example. By that, then, as your polar star, 
steer your course through the trials and temptations of this 
world. To that, as your copy, labor and strive to bring both 
your outward life and inward spirit, that the mind which was 
in him being in you, you may rise with him to the life im- 
mortal, and pass to a full reward in glory and blessedness 
for ever, through the merit and righteousness, the power and 
grace, of this Jescs our Lord and our God; to whom, with 
God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost, three persons and 
one God, be universal glory and praise, world without end! 



SEEMON XYIII. 

FAITH IN CHEIST THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALVATION. 



John tiii. 24, last clause. 
For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins. 

It is a strong confirmation of the external proofs we are 
furnished with of the divine original of Christianity, that its 
leading truths and fundamental doctrines should be the full 
and clear disclosure of those original, indelible, and univer- 
sal impressions on the heart of man, which are independent 
of the fortuitous circumstances of country, complexion, and 
education. And I have often thought, my brethren and 
hearers, that when Christian navigators, in the first range of 
discovery, found continents and islands peopled with beings 
like themselves^ though of a strange speech and different 
color, when they saw the priest, the altar, and the victim, in- 
variably accompanying their worship of an unknown but ac- 
knowledged God, they must have felt the deepest conviction 
of a common origin, a common nature, a common guilt, and 
common hope; they must have seen revelation confirmed, 
and "as the new vine is found in the cluster," so was the 
cross of Chkist, and a propitiation for personal guilt by the 
blood of another, shadowed out in their ignorant supersti- 
tions, as the one only hope of our fallen race. 

And may not we, my friends, by an honest attention to 
the frame of our own spirits, to what passes within us, when 
serious thought realizes the condition of our being, the ac- 
count we have each to give in to God for his gifts of nature 
and grace, and when conscience summons up in dread array 
the actual sins and shameful neglects we are guilty of to- 
wards our Maker, or when danger surprises guilt into fear 
and sinks the boldest among us into dismay at the near pros- 
pect of a death bed unprovided for — may not these and the 
many other intimations which the "still, small voice" of God 
now whispers to our hearts, prompt us all to inquire seriously 



210 FAITH IN CHRIST 

into our state, to seek after the best information we can ob- 
tain, and to try what is presented to us as a message from 
heaven, by its outward proofs, by the internal witness we all 
have in its agreement with our previous impressions, and by 
its fitness to relieve our most pressing wants, in the cheering 
light it sheds over the otherwise dark and anxious anticipa- 
tions of a future being, and in the fruit of its- truth believed 
and its counsel followed. Would not this be the part of pru- 
dence as well as interest on so momentous and imposing a 
subject? And how can any man be said to have acted an 
honest or even a rational part by his immortal soul, who has 
not made a sincere and persevering effort, under the direc- 
tion of the gospel, to secure its hope and enjoy its comfort? 
"If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die.in your sins," 
says a messenger from heaven, accredited to our senses by 
all that can avouch the authority of heaven, and to our hearts 
by every impression which truth, duty, and interest, can 
give to feeling and consciousness. And what do we, too 
many of us, but set to work to invalidate the testimony rather 
than examine the proofs — to dispute the dignity of the mes- 
senger rather than consider the message itself — to cavil at 
the conditions rather than thankfully to embrace a free and 
gracious offer of mercy and salvation — to enlist the powers 
and faculties, not of rational but of rebellious creatures, and 
the stores and resources, not of wisdom, but of science, falsely 
so called — to obscure and resist the truth rather than to pro- 
mote the present and eternal welfare of all around us, and 
the glory of the Giver of every good and perfect gift to his 
creatures; while by so doing we contribute to bring a night 
of darkness and despair over the moral world, taking from 
faith its foundation, from hope its comfort, from charity its 
motive, from fear its sanction, and from righteousness its re- 
ward. And is this a result to be desired, my friends? Are 
the checks to human depravity so plenty and so efficient, 
that the pride and vanity of learning may safely and inno- 
cently be allowed to sport itself with interests which have no 
other measure than eternity? Yet such is the inevitable re- 
sult if the words of my text rest upon any lower authority 
for their claim to your attention than that of heaven's King 
and this world's Judge. And I were a betrayer of Christ, 



THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALVATION. 



211 



accountable as I know that I am, and speaking to those who 
must meet me before his judgment seat, if I proposed them 
to you with less than their weight, as the words of Him "who 
cannot lie" — with less than their authority, as the unchange- 
able word of the Most High God. As such, therefore, I shall 
proceed, in the fear of God, to explain and enforce them. 
"For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your 



sins." 



The structure of the sentence requires us to consider the 
words in the same light as those to whom they were spoken. 

Prophecy and expectation, grounded on the fulfilment of 
a remote promise made by the Almighty to a fallen world, 
of which the Jewish nation were the depositories, and with 
which the whole frame and polity of their state was insepa- 
rably interwoven, led that people to look forward to the ad- 
vent of their promised deliverer with the most intense interest. 
That blessings which language labored to describe were to 
accompany his appearance, they were fully assured; but of 
the particular nature and kind they were, with a few excep- 
tions, altogether ignorant. Vainly puffed up by a fleshly 
mind, corrupt in their morals in proportion to their depart- 
ure from the spirit of their religion, ambitious of worldly 
power and grandeur, and pressed under the yoke of foreign 
and Heathen despotism, they overlooked the spiritual appli- 
cation of their inspired writings, and from the kingly titles 
and supreme dominion ascribed therein to their Messiah, 
expected and desired only a temporal deliverance, and the 
re-establishment of their ancient kingdom in unchangeable 
supremacy over all the kingdoms of this world. Hence, 
when Jesus of Nazareth appeared in the lowly condition of 
a servant, and opened up to them the nature of that kingdom 
which he came to set up — when he explained the spiritual 
extent of that holy law which God had given them, and, de- 
nouncing their sins, called upon them to repent and believe 
in him for pardon, grace, and everlasting life — when he showed 
the kind of deliverance he had undertaken to achieve for 
them, and, instead of that worldly power and grandeur which 
they fondly anticipated, required them to renounce their 
proud and vain glorious expectations, and to follow him in 
humility, self-denial, and holiness, to a kingdom not of this 



212 FAITH IN CHRIST 

"world, they rejected him almost to a man, and with one voice 
exclaimed, ""We will not have this man to reign over us." 
Yea, when his predicted forerunner, whom they all acknow- 
ledged to be a prophet, publicly proclaimed him as the 
promised Messiah, as the Son of God, and "the Lamb of God 
which taketh away the sin of the world" — when prophecies 
fulfilled to the very letter, and miracles wrought before their 
eyes, confounded every reasonable ground of opposition and 
refusal, their perverseness was sharpened into malice, and 
they conspired to take away his life. With this view they 
watched all his motions, laid'snares for him in his speech, and 
when the innocence and wisdom of his life defeated all their 
attempts, at last bribed one of his intimate friends to betray 
him into their hands. 

In one of those attempts to ensnare him, the conversation 
of which my text firms apart occurred, in which, having 
baffled a deep laid scheme to involve him with the civil or 
ecclesiastical rulers of the country, he proceeded to set be- 
fore them the dreadful consequences of continuing to reject, 
his person and doctrine, to warn them that he was not tore- 
main much lunger with them, and that if this the day of their 
visitation was neglected, their ruin was irrevocably decreed. 
"I am the light of the world." "I am from above, I am not 
of this world. Ye are from beneath." "If ye were Abraham's 
children ye would do the works of Abraham." "Ye do the 
works of your father the devil, and because I tell you the 
truth ye believe me not." "I go my way, and whither I go 
ye cannot come." "Ye shall seek me, but ye shall die in 
your sins." "For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall 
die in your sins." 

The words of my text, therefore, are an epitome of the 
gospel, an abbreviated manner of setting forth that method of 
salvation which the mercy of God has provided for sinners, 
through Jesus Christ. And while they briefly but forcibly 
declare both the danger and the remedy, and enforce the 
grand Christian doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, 
they bind down the attention of every serious mind to the 
personal interest of the sinner in the atonement of the cross*. 
Ye are sinners, says our Lord to the Jews; and .in such sort 
sinners, that notwithstanding your being God's chosen peopk* 



THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALVATION. 213 

— notwithstanding your dependence upon the promises made 
to your father Abraham — notwithstanding your confidence 
in the sacrifices and expiations of the law given you by Moses 
— yet as Abraham saw my day, and though afar off, rejoiced 
and was glad, and by faith in the promise only was justified 
and accepted, and as Moses himself, and your law with all 
its provisions, were but types of me, and pointed to me, so 
must you also, by personally believing in or rejecting me, 
be partakers of the promise, or be cut off from the hope of 
Israel. "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but 
my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." "I am 
that bread of life." "I am the living bread which came 
down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live 
for ever." "Yerily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth 
on me hath everlasting life." 

In like manner it is said to each one of US' — Ye are sinners, 
and no otherwise than by faith in the only begotten Son of 
God, can you escape either from your sins or the awful pen- 
alty denounced against them by the unchangeable law of God. 

But as with the Jews so with us, my hearers. Though he 
tells us the truth, and because it is the truth, and we feel 
assured that it is the truth by a testimony not to be mista- 
ken, yet too often we believe him not. That is, we do not 
act upon the conviction thence arising, as we usually do on far 
inferior interests, from convictions which have less certainty. 

For instance: were I to ask this congregation, man by man 
and woman by woman, whether they did not know and feel, 
in other words, were convinced, that they were sinners, in 
the Scripture sense of the word, and as such could have no 
confidence in themselves to meet with safety, the righteous 
judgment of God, would there be any found who could 
honestly say that they even doubted about it? Yet many I 
fear would have to say, in the same honesty, that this sense 
of sin had never been so attended to and acted upon as to 
drive them to Jesus Christ, the only physician of souls. But 
were I to ask the same persons, whether, when laboring under 
a bodily disease they thus act or in managing a temporal 
interest they thus hesitate, and put off what is needful, would 
they not be obliged to answer differently? Yet surely the 
danger from a bodily disease, or the loss or gain of a tempo- 



214 FAITH IS CHRIST 

ral interest, is neither so certain or so great as in the case of 
the soul. Xor can there reasonably be supposed the same 
ground of reliance on the judgment of a friend, the skill of a 
physician, or on the' efficacy of the counsel and means which 
they advise, in the one case as in the other. 

By this analogy, then, let us be instructed, my friends. For 
as surely as a curable distemper may prove mortal to the 
body when the skill of the physician and the means he pre- 
scribes are neglected, so will the disease of sin prove fatal to 
the soul unless arrested in its progress by the grace of the 
gospel, and deprived of its virulence by the blood of Christ. 

"If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." 

This mode of expressing himself, made use of by our Lord, 
called the Jews at once to consider and compare the circum- 
stances predicted of their Messiah with what was passing be- 
fore their eyes. And, had prejudice and prepossession al- 
lowed them to search those Scriptures to which he so often 
referred them, they must have seen the fulfilment of pro- 
phecy stand out in such bold relief as to draw from their 
whole nation the acknowledgment of Nathaniel — "Rabbi, 
thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel." 

That this was a mode of speaking familiar to the Jews, 
when their expected Messiah was the subject, we learn from 
different instances of its use in the Scriptures. Thus, when 
Philip, obeying the Saviour's call, communicated the cir- 
cumstance to Nathaniel, "We have found him," says he, "of 
whom Moses in the law and the prophets did w T rite, Jesus of 
Nazareth the son of Joseph." And when John the Baptist, 
desirous to satisfy his disciples that Jesus was the Messiah, 
sent them to him, his message was expressed in the same pe- 
culiar mode of speaking — "Art thou lie that should come, 
or do we look for another?" And that it was purposely 
made use of by our Lord on this occasion, we have good rea- 
son to infer from his answer to John's message — '"Go and 
show John again those things which ye do hear and see; the 
blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are 
cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the 
poor have the gospel preached unto them." Which answer, 
as it is a literal application of the prophecies to the times and 
marks of the Messiah, so was it intended to give to them and 



THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALTATION. 215 

to all other inquirers, that substantial and convincing evidence 
which springs from the coincidence of a deep and wonderful 
counsel, a declared purpose, and an exact fulfilment; com- 
pared with which no other proof possesses so complete a pow- 
er over the understanding, neither is any other so marked 
with the impress of heaven, or so well calculated to produce 
conviction in every fair and unprejudiced mind. Hence it 
was that our Lord made use of it to confirm to his immediate 
disciples the other proofs they had of his person and charac- 
ter— -"Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to 
pass ye may believe that I am he." And hence the effect 
which they have recorded that it produced upon their faith — ■ 
"When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples 
remembered that he had said this unto them, and they be- 
lieved the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." 
In which, let it be observed and remembered, that it was not 
simply our Lord ? s ability to foretell future events which con- 
firmed his disciples, but the plain and evident connexion and 
agreement of long recorded prophecies with the jDerson and 
character of Jesus Christ, the time of his appearing, and the 
events of his life and death. The former would have entitled 
him to the prophetic character only, in which he had many 
predecessors, but the latter pointed him out as the object 
and end of all prophetic inspiration, the promised "seed of 
the woman," the "angel of the covenant," the "Shiloh" unto 
whom "the gathering of the people" should be, the great 
prophet whom Moses told the Israelites God would "raise up 
unto them of their brethren^ the Lord God of the holy pro- 
phets," the expected Messiah of the Jews, the appointed and 
only Saviour of sinners, "God manifest in the flesh," to "de- 
stroy the Avorks of the devil," "God over all, blessed for 
ever." And, therefore, they not only believed his word, but 
they believed in him as "he that should come, their Lord 
and their God." 

"If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." 
The purchase of mercy for a ruined world, and the proper 
propitiation for the sin which produced and continued that 
ruin, can be declared only by Him who is the fountain of 
mercy, and to whom the atonement was to be made: man 
has nothing to do with it but to accept or refuse it; and we 



'216 FAITH m CHRIST 

may assume, without danger of contradiction, that had heaven 
been silent on its high and holy purposes towards fallen man, 
it never would have entered into his heart to conceive either 
this or any other mode of reconciliation and restoration. It 
is so far above and beyond the conception and reach of the 
"natural man," yea, it is such "foolishness'' to him, even when 
made known, that we safely thus conclude. Yet in its sreat 
outline it is written in the heart of every living, thinking be- 
ing. and we can trace its presence through the long hidden, 
and unconnected islands of the great deep, through the lead- 
ing features of Heathen superstition, through the sacrifices 
and expiations of the Jews, to the fulfilment of what these all 
shadowed out in "the offering up of the bodv of Christ once 
for all." 

It is on this universal testimony, that "without shedding of 
blood there is no remission." confirmed by the express decla- 
ration of God's revealed will, that we are called on and com- 
manded to believe in Christ. As he was the true sin-offer- 
ing, of which all other sacrifices, Patriarchal, Pagan, or Jew- 
ish, were but types; as his blood alone takcth away the sin 
of the world by washing out the guilt of rebellion against 
God; so hath it pleased the Almighty Father to appoint, that 
no otherwise than by faith in his only begotten Son can sin- 
ful man look up to him with hope; that no otherwise than 
through faith in the merits of his blood shed for us to satisfy 
the demands of the broken law. can either original or actual 
guilt be atoned for, and the sinner stand justified or account- 
ed righteous in the sicrht of a holy God. And that no other- 
wise than by the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, 
can sinful creatures be renewed in the spirit of their minds 
to that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. 
Hence it is that faith in Christ is so often put for the whole 
of religion, that we are told that '"without faith it is impossi- 
ble to please God," that "he that believeth not is condemned 
already." For, until we believe the message of mercy re- 
vealed by and through Jesus Christ in the gospel, the wit 
of man cannot invent a ground of hope or confidence towards 
God, for that creature who is opposed to him in all his 
thoughts and in all his ways. But in believing, all things 



THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALVATION. 217 

are made possible; God can be just and the justifier of him 
that believeth in Jesus; the world, sin, death, and hell, can 
be overcome by faith in the only begotten Son of God, and 
heaven with all its glories realized to him who walks by faith 
and not by sight; while to the unbeliever there is nothing 
possible, because there is no motive, neither is there any 
help promised or given. He may, indeed, and most gene- 
rally he does, to tranquilize the indwelling fears of his mis- 
giving conscience, patch up some motley system of belief for 
himself, in which he fashions a God after his own liking, and 
draws largely on revelation for the mercy it holds out, with- 
out once thinking, that the Scripture cannot be broken — that 
revelation is a whole, and must be taken altogether or not at 
all; that we can know nothing of God, as a God of mercy, 
but by the revelation of Christ and his cross; and that taking 
a part of what is revealed, will only condemn him, by prov- 
ing that he had the whole, and thence makes God a liar, by 
discrediting the testimony he hath therein given to his only 
begotten Son. 

"If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." 
This is the issue which the gospel is furnished to make up 
with us all, my friends. If we are not sinners, we need nei- 
ther its mercy, its atonement, or its grace, and the Bible is a 
libel on human nature; but if we are sinners, in the true 
meaning of the word, that is, aliens from God by virtue of a 
most just sentence already pronounced, enemies to his purity 
and holiness in our desires and our actions, without help or 
means in ourselves to renew our nature and regain his favor, 
mercy on me! by what name shall they be called who ven- 
ture upon eternity in this condition with the gospel sounding 
in their ears? On such an issue, of whom should we take 
counsel, my hearers? The sure word of God, and its coun- 
terpart in our own hearts, or the vain inventions and shallow 
reasonings of men like ourselves? Have we not within us, 
yea, even those who dispute against it, have we not the wit- 
ness that we cannot answer even one of a thousand of the fair 
and just claims of Him who made and redeemed us, upon 
the love and obedience of his creatures; have we not without 
us the speaking witness of our ruin, in the frame of both the 
natural and moral world, disordered, disjointed, and out of 
[Vol. 2— *15.] 



218 FAITH m CHRIST 

course; storms and tempests, earthquakes and volcanoes, wars 
and pestilence, poverty and nakedness, cold and hunger, 
marring the beauty and breaking in upon the arrangement 
of the natural world, and darkness and ignorance, sorrow and 
suffering, disease and death, lording it over the image of 
God, and over the unconscious creatures he hath made? And 
did he make them to this end, brethren? Is either natural 
or moral evil the creature of a perfectly pure, wise, and om- 
nipotent Being? JSTo, my friends, God forbid you should 
think it; what came from his creating hands came forth 
"very good." But sin entered and the curse followed, which 
for our sakes extended even to things which cannot sin; 
"Cursed is the ground for thy sake." Sad proof of the ha- 
tred and abhorrence with which God regards sin, and speak- 
ing argument to us to escape from its snare. 

O my dear hearers, let us listen to the faithful counsel of 
our heavenly Father, confirmed as it is by all that we see 
around us, and by all that we feel within us — above all, let 
us look to the convincing demonstration of his hatred of sin 
and love to poor sinners, manifested in "lajnng upon his be- 
loved Son the iniquity of us all," and exacting from him the 
penalty which all creation could not pay. Look to that com- 
passionate Saviour who gave himself for us, the just for the 
unjust, that he might bring us to God; who took upon him 
our nature, that he might teach us, die for us, and save us, 
and rose again from the dead that we might have a hope be- 
yond the grave. 

Hear him, this day, calling upon you — -"Come unto me, 
all ye ends of the earth, and be saved." Hear him reproach- 
ing you — "you will not come unto me that ye might have 
life;" and hear all his invitations and reproofs echoed back 
upon your souls in the solemn warning — "If ye believe not 
that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." 

But what is it to die in our sins? It is to enter upon an 
eternal existence with the curse of God upon our souls, to 
pass the intermediate state in a "certain fearful looking for 
of judgment, and fiery indignation which shall consume the 
adversary." It is to rise to the judgment of the great clay, 
with the claims of the law in full force against us for every 
violation of its holy and unchangeable precepts, without a 



THE ONLY CONDITION OF SALVATION. 219 

shield from its justice, a refuge from its vengeance, or a plea 
for mercy; to appear before the judgment seat of Christ with 
warnings slighted, opportunities neglected, mercies abused, 
and love, bleeding love, despised. It is to be banished for 
ever from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his 
power, to dwell with unceasing regret, unmixed despair, and 
everlasting burnings. 

O, my poor fellow sinners, be persuaded to think of these 
things now, as you will surely think of them then. For, if 
but to hear of them from the lips of a minister of Christ, and 
a poor dying creature like yourselves, makes your heart to 
sink within you, what will it be when you hear them from 
the lips of the Lord Jesus himself, when the thunder of hea- 
ven proclaims the irreversible sentence, "Depart ye cursed 
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." 

Oh! the horror of that moment, when unbelief stands aghast 
at the sound of the last trumpet — when the earth, heaving 
into life, gives up its buried millions to judgment — when a 
burning world and a blazing heaven proclaim the pollution 
of sin by passing through the purification of fire for having 
witnessed it — when the gospel sinner sees the Judge of quick 
and dead appear in his glory, with the powers of heaven in 
his train and the marks of the cross in his person — when 
hope dies for ever and the second death seizes upon those 
who, in their day of grace, might have come, but they would 
not. And shall we risk it, my friends, against truth, against 
reason, against conscience, against interest, against demon- 
stration — shall we risk it upon the weak and beggarly ele- 
ments of a reason that would be wiser than God— upon the 
authority of men like ourselves, who cannot give to God a 
ransom for their own souls nor redeem their brother from 
the grave? God forbid! To whom, then, can we go but to 
Him who has the words of eternal life, who calls upon you 
to make your peace with God by hearty repentance and true 
faith, and this day sets before you the unchangeable condi- 
tion of gospel hope and gospel mercy in the words of my 
text— "For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in 
your sins." 



SERMON XIX. 

•LITE AifD IMMOKTALITT BEOUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL^ 



2 Timothy i. 10. 

Who hatli abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light h'y 
the gospel. 

The particular exhortations to Timothy to be earnest, stead- 
fast, and constant, in the profession and practice of religion, 
and in the performance of his duty as a minister of Christ 
and ruler in the Church, are grounded on the facts declared 
in my text; and as those facts have a proportional bearing 
upon every man who hears them proclaimed, their applica- 
tion is universal. As death and judgment await as well pri- 
vate Christians as public teachers of religion, as well those 
who make no profession of and have no concern with religion 
as those who do and are openly engaged on the Loed's side, 
all, without exception, are concerned to consider and lay to 
heart the infinite consequences which follow from the discov- 
eries made to us of another state of being. 

Mankind, indeed, are universally under the impression that 
there is a life after this present one, and they are also aware 
in some good degree, that its chief purpose will be to reward 
the good and punish the wicked; but it is only by the resur- 
rection of our Loed Jesus Cheist from the dead, which we 
this day celebrate, that the full and explicit knowledge of 
the nature and extent of that life, and of the manner in which 
it will affect us, is confirmed to our faith. Ilence the doc- 
trine of a future state is not only the comprehensive and con- 
clusive argument which the apostle makes use of to enforce 
upon Timothy the private and public observance of his own 
particular duties, but that also, which applies to every other 
individual in the world, according to the measure which it 
has pleased God to deal out to him. In this respect God 
hath no where left himself without witness; for the conclu- 
sions reason is able to come to from the impression of a fu* 



222 LIFE AND IMMORTALITY 

ture state, are all in favor of that fear and reverence of Al- 
mighty God which leads to obedience of his holy law, whe- 
ther that be the law written on the heart, or the law of love 
and life proclaimed in the gospel. 

To consider seriously, then, the doctrine declared in my 
text, is to open the door for the claims of religion to engage 
our attention. For religion is just what God. in his wisdom, 
has been pleased to appoint, to prepare us for a happy eter- 
nity — is just what is requisite to assimilate us otherwise sinful 
creatures to his pure and holy nature, that we may be capable 
of enjoying the glory and blessedness of his presence, and, 
in a state of endless being, reap those rich rewards which his 
loving mercy hath prepared and promised to all who believe 
and obey him. While to banish from our minds this awaken- 
ing subject, to occupy our thoughts with present and sensible 
thin £8, is to exclude all entrance to the fear of God in our 
hearts, all reverence for him in our lives. For, to the man 
who never realizes another life, religion, or what is the same 
thing, the love and service of God, can present no obligations, 
In fact, there might as well be no God. 

When this universal impression of a future being is con- 
firmed by express revelation; when the otherwise dark and 
dubious conjectures of our anxious minds are put to rest and 
cleared up by the explicit confirmation of the gospel; and 
wheu, whit all must wish for, but none could attain unto, 
has, by the resurrection of Jesus Chkist, become the birth- 
right and inheritance, as it were, of Christian lands, it must 
be profitable both to those who receive and those who reject 
the light, to examine and consider what Christianity teaches 
concerning a life to come, and then apply the instruction it 
shall give us — which life to come "is now made manifest by 
the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished 
death; and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel." 

I. First, if there is another life after this, our present life 
must form a part of it, or be in some way connected with it. 

We are, accordingly, informed and assured in the Scrip- 
tures, that our present life is a state of reprieve and proba- 
tion — that it flows from God's free mercy, by the mediation 
of Jesus Christ — that it is intended to ascertain who are fit 
objects of God's further mercy in everlasting salvation, upon 



BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL. 223 

the gracious conditions of the new covenant, or fit only for 
the everlasting exercise of his wrath, as irreclaimable, im- 
penitent, unbelieving, and disobedient. The purpose of the 
present life, then, is to prepare ourselves, by victory over 
sin and the attainment of holiness, for another which is to 
follow it; and the duties which religion requires, and the 
grace or assistance afforded, are in order to enable us to attain 
this end; while the judgment we have to meet is to ascertain 
who have and who have not made this wise improvement of 
God's sparing mercy. 

Hence, we learn that every part of our present behaviour 
will be strictly and impartially inquired into, and our thoughts 
as well as our actions laid open before the Searcher of hearts, 
"who will render to every man according to his deeds; to 
them who by patient continuance in welldoing, seek for 
glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life; but to them 
who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey 
unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and 
anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil; but glory, 
honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, without 
respect of persons." 

This is the great and fundamental discovery of the gospel 
on the condition of our future life — that the righteous shall 
be rewarded and the wicked punished everlastingly, is the 
express declaration of God's word, repeated in more instances 
than I have time to quote, and varied under every mode of 
expression which can engage attention, excite hope, or alarm 
fear. And this, perhaps, to the further purpose of counter- 
acting the fatal propensity so frequent in the Christian world, 
of a careless, unfounded trust for salvation in that love and 
mercy of God which shines so bright in the gift of Jesus 
Christ, without once reflecting, that this and every other 
instance of God's goodness is intended to lead us to repent- 
ance, to faith, to holiness, and unless it produces this effect, 
will only the more deeply condemn us — without once con- 
sidering, that mercy, however large and free, if unsought, 
unfound, here, cannot be obtained hereafter, and that "with- 
out holiness no man shall see the Lord." 

We may certainly collect, then, from the Scripture account 
of our future life, that it will be a state in which men will 



224 LIFE AND IMMORTALITY 

reap the fruit of their doings in the present life — in which 
the reward of their hands shall he given them — in which "he 
that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but 
he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life ever- 
lasting." 

II. Secondly, if there is another life in connexion with this, 
the means of attaining it must be within our reach. 

To keep the word of promise to the ear, and break it to the 
hope, is truly the character of the "father of lies," not of the 
"Father of mercies and God of all comfort and consolation." 
And as God in his mercy hath seen fit to reprieve sinners 
from eternal death, and to put them once more on trial for 
eternal life, he who doeth all things well must have furnished 
them to profit by this wonderful display of his wisdom and 
love; and we are bound to believe, whatever specious objec- 
tions may be brought against the doctrine, that every human 
being under the sound of the gospel, to go no farther, though 
I am willing to include the race of Adam, is provided, by the 
undertaking of Jesus Christ, to escape that eternal death 
from which he is reprieved, to overcome that sin which en- 
tailed it upon him, to attain that holiness required by the 
gospel, and, as its reward, that eternal life which is yet the 
free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. With this 
view of the subject agrees the whole tenor of revelation. 
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." "For 
God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, 
but that the world through him might be saved." "God made 
liini who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be 
made the righteousness of God in him." "God so loved the 
world that lie gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever be- 
lieveth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 
Accordingly, of Jesus Christ and his undertaking for us, we 
are taught to believe that he tasted death for every man; that 
he gave himself a ransom for all; that the atonement of his 
death is as extensive as human sin; that lie is the propitiaton 
for the sins of the whole world; that because he humbled 
himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the 
cross, therefore God also hath highly exalted him, that he 
might be head over all things to his Church, in which he 
rules as a Son in his own house; that when he ascended up 



BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL. 225 

■on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men, 
even the Holt Spirit, to abide continually with his Church, 
to convince, convert, and save; that, having overcome death 
and hi in that had power of it, and having all things com- 
mitted unto him of the Father, he proclaims to a lost world, 
"Come unto me all the ends of the earth, and be saved." 
"Him that cometli unto me, I will in no wise cast out." u He 
that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his 
belly shall flow rivers of living water." "He that believeth on 
me hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." 
Of the Holy Spirit we are taught to believe, that by his 
operations upon our hearts, we are enlightened and quicken- 
ed from a state of spiritual death to one of life and knowledge; 
that by his convincing power we are brought to a right sense 
of the heinous nature of sin, and enabled to resolve against 
it; that by his sanctifying grace we are renewed in the spirit 
of our minds to love God and to serve him in holiness, to be- 
lieve his word, to trust his promise, and to embrace the offer 
of his mercy in and through Jesus Christ as our onlv hope 
of eternal life; that in the great work of our salvation, from 
first to last, it is by the Holy Ghost that Goo works in us to 
will and to do; and that as it is by him only that we are pre- 
pared for glory, so by him are we raised from the dead to 
partake of it. Such is the wonderful provision of the love of 
God in Christ Jesus, to bring back a world of fallen, sinful 
creatures to himself; and by the gospel the gracious invitation 
is given to all, the means are offered to all, and it is pro- 
claimed even to the chief of sinners — "ask and ye shall re- 
ceive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened 
unto you." And it is surely a much more reasonable as well 
as scriptural method of accounting for the disregard mani- 
fested for the gospel, to ascribe it to the perverseness of human 
nature, to the power of the god of this world in blinding the 
minds of them that will not believe, to the love of sin, or to 
any cause rather than to some secret reserve on the part of 
Almighty God, at war with the plain declarations of his pub- 
lic message by his only begotten Son, however right and just 
such a proceeding may be shown in the abstract to be, and 
most consistent, in the view of man's wisdom, with the claims 
of his unlimited sovereignty. No, my fellow sinners, there 



226 LIFE AND IMMORTALITY 

is do bar to the mercy of the gospel but yourselves — "the 
Spirit and the bride say come, and let him that heareth say 
come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will 
let him come, and take of the water of life freely." If you 
are not athirst for the water of life, it is because you have 
turned a deaf ear to the warning of God's word, to the testi- 
mony therein given to your lost condition; it is because you 
stifle the convictions of your conscience, awakened by the 
Holy Spirit, and drive him from you; it is because you love 
the pleasures of sin and the vanities of the world more than 
your immortal souls; it is because you will not believe even 
one who has arisen from the dead, to reveal to you the un- 
speakable interests which await you beyond the grave, and 
are dependent for their everlasting happiness or misery on 
the present short, fleeting, and uncertain state of being; it is 
because you receive not the truth in the love of it that you 
might be saved; it is because you will not come to the light, 
lest your deeds should be reproved; and not because God 
either withholds his grace or restrains you from profiting by 
it. No, he this day calls upon you to repent and believe the 
gospel; he offers you the sacrifice of his only Son to atone for 
your sins, the grace of his Holy Spirit to renew your hearts, 
the comfort of his precious promises to strengthen your weak 
endeavurs, the terrors of his avenging wrath to alarm your 
guilty fears, a judgment revealed to determine your ever- 
lasting condition, and eternity awaiting you to crown with 
its endless sanctions the part you shall now take. O that his 
light may this day dawn upon your souls with life and power, 
that you may be no longer faithless but believing, and en- 
abled to choose that good part which shall not be taken from 
you. For your eternal interest is now depending, and de- 
pending upon yourselves. The terms of the gospel, life and 
death, are set before you. Your condition in the future world 
will be determined by your behaviour in this. Eternal life, 
through the free and undeserved gift of God through Jesus 
Christ, can no otherwise be obtained by us than by our own 
most earnest and unremitting endeavors to become worthy 
of it, by that personal holiness which is the crown of religion; 
for he that will be saved, must work out his own salvation 



BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL. 227 

in the fear of God, and as God has appointed, now while it 
is called to-daj. 

In what is thus revealed to us in the word of God, of a 
future state, and of the means provided for our attainment 
of its blessedness, we find the whole adapted to our weak and 
infirm condition, my hearers, yet so adapted as to give no 
encouragement to sin, no excuse to indolence and careless- 
ness, no hope to the fearful and unbelieving, which is a strong 
and convincing argument that it is not of man, neither by 
man, but the wisdom, and the power, and the love of God, 
manifested to advance his glory in the salvation of souls. 
And a strong and instant appeal it is to all who hear the 
joyful sound of the gospel, not to trifle with their day of 
grace, not to put away from them the warnings of God's word, 
the convictions of his Holy Spirit, the reason of their own 
minds, and the unspeakable interests of eternity. 

In what pertains to the judgment through which we must 
all pass to the rewards or punishments of a future state, the 
same merciful regard to our circumstances is manifested by 
our heavenly Father. For we are informed, 

III. Thirdly, that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is 
ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead, so that 
the same person will pass sentence on our sins who suffered 
and died for them. 

In the consideration of what belongs to this point of doc- 
trine, it is hardly possible to determine whether there is in 
it more of hope for the penitent believer or of despair to the 
impenitent sinner. 

Compassed about as we are with infirmity, my brethren, 
and deeply sensible how far short we come of what our Law- 
giver and Judge might righteously demand at our hands, it 
is a never to be forgotten, and an ever to be praised, proof of 
God's clemency and goodness towards us, that one who was 
in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin, who in 
the very truth of our nature experienced its weakness, though 
he rose superior to its frailty, and therefore knows how to 
have compassion on the ignorant, and them that are out of 
the way, that one who can be touched with a feeling of our 
infirmities, should, in the last resort, be constituted our Judge. 

To the believer it is full of hope and comfort that he has 



228 LIFE AND IMMORTALITY 

not to meet a stranger in that trying day, one to whom he is 
wholly unknown, but one to whose mediation and interces- 
sion he has often had recourse, of whose fulness, all spiritual 
grace and advancement has been wrought in him, in whose 
righteousness alone he trusts, in whose all-atoning blood 
he has washed and purified the polluted robes of his own 
righteousness, and in whose promise he confides for eternal 
■life; while to the impenitent sinner, all that Jesus is to the 
believer, is a source of the blackest despair. That unbelief 
which he cherished against the convictions of his conscience, 
is now put to flight, by seeing eye to eye, and face to face. 
That Jesus, whom he derided as an impostor, or acknowledged 
only as a man, now appears before him with life and death 
eternal dependent on his almighty decision. The judgment 
is set and the books are opened, and the great white throne 
presents to an admiring universe that same Jesus of Nazareth 
who bore his cross through Jerusalem to Calvary, who bore 
our sins in his own body on the tree, who tasted death for a 
lost world, and rising triumphant from the grave, became 
the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him, exalted 
as Judge of quick and dead. All this the impenitent gospel 
sinner then sees, in that flood of uncreated light which sur- 
rounds the throne of the Eternal. All this the gospel sinner 
hears in the thunderings, and lightnings, and voices which 
proceed from the throne itself. While memory rolls back 
upon his awakened conscience invitations slighted, warnings 
neglected, mercies abused, and time wasted — heaven defied, 
hell derided, and judgment dared. That world which he 
took for his portion now rolls a smoking ruin under his feet. 
The gulden god of his idolatry is reduced to a cinder. The 
pleasures he pursued have left only their sting behind them. 
The morality in which he trusted, touched by the sceptre of 
eternal truth, evaporates into selfishness, while naked and 
defenceless he trembles before his righteous Judge. In horror 
and amazement, a plea for mercy would rush to his lips; but 
the day of mercy is past — it is the day of judgment! his own 
mouth anticipates the sentence of the Judge, and he sinks 
into that bottomless gulf, "where the worm never dies, and 
•the fire never shall be quenched." 

O blessed Lord, thou most worthy Judge eternal, look 



BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL. 22$ 

down upon us in thy mercy, and give to the truth of thy holy 
and unchangeable word its life and power. Fasten an arrow 
of conviction in the heart of some poor sinner present; yea, 
Loed, of all who are present, that they may flee from the 
wrath to come, and escape the terrors of thy great and dread- 
ful day, the horrors of everlasting despair, and the death that 
never dies. 

my dear brethren, let us keep ever before us this awful 
close of all our hopes and fears, that it may. stir us up so to> 
pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the 
things eternal; — that, holding faith and a good conscience, we 
may reap a full reward. In that awful day, what will the 
world and its vanities be worth? What advantage will the 
pursuits of ambition, profit, and pleasure then \ield us?' 
Where will be the gain of riches if we are not rich towards 
God, rich in faith, rich in good works? Bring your worldly 
condition to this blessed light, my brethren, and whatever in 
it will not bear this test, cease from it, and put it away from 
you. For it is better to enter into life naked of every worldly 
accommodation, than, clothed in purple and fine linen, to 
awake in hell, being in torments. 

1 come, in the last place, to make a brief application of the 
instruction we may draw from the text, and from what has 
been said upon it. 

Have we, then, my friends, realized and brought near to 
us this final close of all that we are engaged so busily and 
earnestly about? Have we ever paused upon the awakening 
thought that death and judgment await us, and that we are 
advancing towards them as fast as the tide of time can roll 
us onward to the fated moment, when the heavens being on 
fire shall be dissolved, the earth also and the works that are 
therein shall be burnt up? Or have we permitted it to pass 
through the mind as a speculation of something distant and 
future, which might be put off to a more convenient season? 
Alas! how many thousands who yet cannot plead ignorance, 
are nevertheless as every way unconcerned about this event 
as if they had no interest whatever in the mighty determi- 
nation then to be made. How many millions in gospel lands 
have yet to awake to the solemn truth contained in my text, 
to shake off the thorns and briers of worldly occupation, and 



230 LIFE AND IMMORTALITY 

give some share of thought and attention to the interests of 
eternity. And even in this little assembly, where not a week 
passes without its honest warning, what a small proportion 
have brought the truths of religion to bear upon the deep 
anxieties of a dying bed, upon the account which each must 
give of himself to God. Alas! how is it in these days, as it 
was in the days of Noah and of Lot. One goes to his farm, 
another to his merchandise, and a third to his profession or 
his pleasure, regardless of the certain truth, "that the day of 
the Lokd so cometh as a thief in the night," and of the only 
preparation which can enable a fallen, sinful creature to 
meet it with composure. 

But, my hearers, if these things are so, "what manner of 
persons ought we to be" who profess to believe them, and 
whether we believe them or not, must, nevertheless, meet 
•them, with this miserable addition to our guilt, that we had 
•timely warning and effectual means to escape the snare? 

h' a day is tixed and drawing nearer and nearer, when 
■Christ will come to take account of his servants, how ear- 
nestly engaged should we be, "that we maybe found of him 
an peace." Is it the part of prudence to be careless about so 
great an event? or can any sacrifice be too great to secure a 
""well done" from our heavenly Master? Reason says no, 
"revelation says no, heaven says no, hell says no. Will any 
here present, then, say yes? No, not one*will speak out; and 
yet in one little hour how many will declare by their actions, 
which speak louder than words, that they have no relish for 
heavenly things — that they prefer the pleasures of sin, the 
gain q1" ungodliness, and a portion in this life with the awful 
curse which follows them in the life to come, to the incor- 
ruptible inheritance of a heavenly kingdom — to that fulness 
of joy which beams from the presence of God — to those end- 
less pleasures which are at his right hand for evermore. 

O that I could persuade you to give as much thought to 
your souls as you do to your sins; to bestow as much labor 
on your eternal, as you waste upon your temporal interests — 
as much attention to be adorned with righteousness in your 
lives, as with finery on your persons. Then there might be 
some hope; but, alas! alas! while the present life swallows up 
the care and attention due to another, what else can be ex- 



BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL. 231 

pected but that iniquity should abound, the love of many 
wax cold, and the leaden slumber of infidelity settle into that 
deej) and death-like sleep, from which the voice of the arch- 
angel and the trump of God alone shall wake them. 

"Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, 
and Christ shall give thee light." There is yet one little 
precious hour in which to redeem the time that is wasted — 
in which, by repentance towards God and faith in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, thy ingratitude may be forgotten, thy sins blot- 
ted out, and the renewal of the Holy Ghost prepare thee to 
reap the rich reward of everlasting life and blessedness in 
the kingdom of Christ and of God. 

To the Christian, in like manner, the doctrine of a future 
state is full of warning and encouragement at the same time. 
It warns him that this world is not his rest, and thereby ena- 
bles him to resist and to overcome the temptation of its pros- 
perity. It sets before him a kingdom which cannot be moved, 
and thereby engages him to seek the best things, to lay up 
his treasure where neither disappointment, or loss, or decay, 
can ever come. In the hour of adversity, the contemplation 
of an incorruptible inheritance laid up in heaven for him, 
encourages him to wait with faith and patience, and to endure 
as seeing Him who is invisible except to the eye of faith. 
And even in the hour of dissolution, the assurance of a joy- 
ful resurrection through the merits of a risen Redeemer, 
cheers the dark valley of the shadow of death with light from 
heaven, and transmits him through the darkness of the grave 
to the uncreated light of God's everlasting presence. His 
faith is built on the resurrection of Jesus, his hope is founded 
on the promise of his Lord. "Because I live, ye shall live 
also." "I will come again and receive you to myself." This 
is the anchor of his soul to the Christian, the joyful expecta- 
tion of which supports him through his pilgrimage, and 
strengthens him to purify and prepare himself for the "well 
done" of his Saviour and his Jude'e. It is the resurrection 
of Christ, my brethren, which gives life and power to his 
gospel. We may admire the holiness of his life — -we may 
mourn over the tragedy of his death — it is his resurrection 
from the dead which makes the gospel a joyful sound. Take 
it away, or, what is the same in effect, let it be disregarded, 



232 LITE AND IMMORTALITY, &C. 

unapplied, and of what worth is the gospel? Take it away,, 
and to what purpose should we celebrate his death as the 
highest solemnity of religion, or expect to derive comfort or 
increase of grace from a Saviour who himself continued the 
victim of death, and imprisoned in the grave? "But now is 
Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of 
them that slept," therefore, we draw near to God with confi- 
dence through him who is thus "the first born of many breth- 
ren."' His death for us is sanctified as a means of grace by 
the triumph of his resurrection. The promises of God to a 
sinful world are sealed to every believer in this proof that 
the great sin offering is accepted, and assurance given to all 
men that they shall stand before him as their Judge. 

Let us, therefore, my brethren, as partakers of this hope, 
keep ever before us the gracious purpose of his life, his death, 
and his resurrection, that, as he came to redeem us from all in- 
iquity, we may purify our hearts even as he is pure; and 
drawing near to this commemoration of his passion and 
death for our sins, with a true and lively faith, we may real- 
ize the power of his resurrection, through the renewal of our 
spiritual strength, and pass at last to our joyful resurrection,, 
through his Spirit dwelling in us, who "hath abolished death,, 
and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel." 

To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all 
honor and glory, world without end. 



SEEMON XX. 



SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. — SACRAMENTAL. 



1 John iv. 10. 

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his 
Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

The mercies of God to his creatures present the most moving 
appeal which can be made to their hearts; they speak a lan- 
guage which all can understand, however slow of heart to 
practise the lesson they teach. And as they are universal in. 
their distribution, and are over all his works, they form the 
ground-work of that condemnation or acquittal, that reward or 
punishment, which his righteous judgment shall determine 
upon them. This is presented to us in many shapes in the 
Scriptures of our faith, my brethren, and many most affection- 
ate exhortations, drawn from this source, are set forth to 
quicken our languid tempers, and stir up the best affections 
of our souls to love and honor, to serve and please our un- 
wearied Benefactor. "God is love," and all that we can know 
and perceive, all that we enjoy or suffer, whatever we possess 
in time or can hope for in eternity, is grounded on this never 
to be shaken foundation. 

His sovereign power, indeed, claims of right, our entire duty 
and obedience, our most unreserved submission to his holy 
will, and the most unqualified disposal of our destiny; nor is it 
in man, or in any created being, to measure arms with Jehovah. 
But though this is imprinted on our hearts, and set forth in his 
word, as the unanswerable argument for rational creatures to 
learn the will of God, and to do it, yet in the benignity of his 
pure and perfect nature, he rather applies to a sense of benefits 
conferred, of compassion entertained, of favor and mercy pro- 
mised, to move our gratitude and win our willing obedience. 

Of this I might cite many passages and proofs from the 
Scriptures, for it is but to open the Bible to find them. Yet 
have we a larger volume, my hearers^ in which to read this 
[Vol. 2,— *16.J 



234 SALTATION THROUGH GRACE. 

quickening troth. "We have only to open onr eyes, and lo y 
the goodness of God surrounds us on every side! "We have 
but to look back on our past lives, and to see and to realize, 
each one for himself, the long-suffering patience and for- 
bearance of our heavenly Father, who is "not willing that 
any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," 
and that whatever is adverse and unprosperous in our present 
circumstances, is the fruit of our own headstrong passions, or 
perverse neglect of his word and warning; and we have only 
to consider the purpose and appointment of this day to be 
assured of the soul comforting truth, that that God "who so 
loved the world that he spared not his own Son, but deliv- 
ered him up for us all, will with him also freely give us all 
things." These speaking proofs of God's love to a world of 
sinners,. as they are obvious to all, so do they speak to all, of 
those grateful, thankful, and hearty returns of love and obe- 
dience, which is the poor but only acknowledgment we can 
pay for such unequalled goodness, which all true Christians 
feel and render, and which the apostle from whom my text 
is taken pressed upon his hearers, with all the persuasiveness 
of a heart which spake out of the abundance wherewith it 
was tilled. 

But, my brethren, while the tender mercies of our God are 
thus strong and imperative in the claim they have upon us, 
there is one circumstance attending this display of his love 
and compassion, which should give a still deeper sense of it 
to our sojkls. And that is, that it was and is wholly unde- 
served — what we had no right to expect, neither could put in 
any claim for. This it is which gives its point to the text, and 
sets forth "the kindness of God our Saviour toward man" in 
all the "breadth, and leugth, and depth, and height, of his" 
rich, redeeming "love." This it is which St. John presses 
upon Christians, as the conclusive argument for that spirit of 
love and fellowship among, themselves, which is the new com- 
mandment in the religion of the gospel, and the proof, that, 
as disciples of Christ we have passed from death unto life. 
"Herein is love," says he, "not that we loved God, but that 
he loved us and sent Ids Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 

In directing your meditations to this passage of Scriptnre, 
my brethren, I shall, confine your attention to two heads of 
doctrine, obviously to be drawn from it. 



SALVATION THROUGH GKACE. 235 

The one, that our salvation, with all that leads to it, is of 
mere grace, unsought and unprocurable by us. 

The otiieb, that this salvation, thus wrought out and of- 
fered to sinners by the gospel, is no otherwise attainable than 
in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

These two points will naturally lead to such practical re- 
flections as will put yon in possession, I trust, of the spirit of 
the text, and prepare you with devout and understanding 
hearts to entertain the meditations of the season, and, while 
you hail the advent of the Saviour with joyful hearts, pass 
forward in spirit to the concluding proof of that love which 
overcame death with his own weapons, and opened the gate 
of everlasting life to redeemed man; while they may be made 
effectual by God's good blessing to awaken consideration in 
those who, surrounded by the love of God in the mercies of 
the gospel, feel neither the benefits they slight, nor the in- 
gratitude they are guilty of. 

I. First, that our salvation, with all that leads to it, is of 
mere grace, unsought and unprocurable by us. 

As pride in some of its detestable workings was the cause 
of that transgression which separated man from his Maker, 
and overspread this poor world with sin in all its varied but 
destructive shapes; so it is to this day the root of all opposi- 
sition to and disregard of the salvation of the gospel. As it 
was the ground work on which the devil contrived that temp- 
tation which ended in the ruin of our first parents, so it is 
the great instrument by which he takes captive and holds in 
his snare the tens of thousands avIio, in spite of warning and 
conviction, continue the servants of sin. Hence that swell- 
ing and rising of the carnal mind against this fundamental 
doctrine of salvation by grace, and the strong propensity, even 
in awakened man, to be his own saviour, either in whole or 
in part, and by his own merits to make out a title to the re- 
ward of eternal life. But assuredly pride was not made for 
man, either in his upright or in his fallen condition; as a crea- 
ture, a created being, he had nothing which he had not re- 
ceived, nor could he rightfully withhold the inward affec- 
tions of his soul or the outward service of his body from the 
grand purpose of his creation. He ventured, however, in an 
evil hour, to listen to the whispers of pride, to think himself 



236 SALVATION THROUGH GEACE. 

or his adviser wiser than God, and, in the ambitions desire 
to know more and to stand higher than belonged to his sta- 
tion, he stepped npon forbidden ground and sunk into irre- 
trievable ruin. Entertaining in his heart another image, 
another desire than of God himself, the original likeness in 
which he was made departed, and left him the helpless vic- 
tim of sin, spiritually dead and eternally condemned. This 
is no ideal picture, my friends, but the simple truth of man's 
condition from God's true and faithful word. 

In this state, what was left to the fallen creature wherewith 
to undo his sin and restore his hope? Could his betrayer 
furnish him to regain the height from whence he was preci- 
pitated? Alas! he himself had fallen from a still higher ele- 
vation. Pride had destroyed the glory even of the angelic 
nature, and sunk a seraph to the bottomless pit of eternal de- 
spair. Was there aught within reach of the sinner himself 
to atone for his guilt, to make satisfaction" for his offence? 
Could ages of suffering on the part of the offender compen- 
sate for his crime? Alas! the offence was infinite, the offender 
a finite dying creatiire, every way betrayed and undone, 
without help, and devoid even of hope. Whence came his 
deliverance? Blessed be the Father of mercies, that we are 
able to answer this question, to trace to its source both our 
ruin and recovery, and in the truth of his holy word, in the 
help of his renewing grace, to know whence our salvation 
cometh; to know that when there was no eye to pity, no hand 
to save, his own right hand and his holy arm hath gotten 
him the victory, and wrought out salvation for us; that to the 
antecedent original love and compassion of God the Father 
Almighty, we owe the whole work of our redemption. This 
the Scriptures set forth to us in a great number of places and 
in much variety of expression, and our Loud himself uni- 
formly teaches this doctrine — "I came not to do mine own 
will but the will of him that sent me:" "God so loved the world 
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth 
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And the 
gospel itself, as containing the glad tidings of salvation, is 
styled the gospel of the grace of God. Indeed, no doctrine 
is more clearly taught throughout both the gospels and epis- 
tles than this, that to the original goodness and mercy of God 



SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. 237 

the Father, we owe bothtiie appointment and acceptance of 
the sacrifice of Christ's death as an atonement for the sins of 
the whole world. "God commendeth his love towards us," 
saith St. Paul, "in that while we were yet sinners Christ died 
for us;" and the same apostle sums up the whole in one short 
sentence — "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is 
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." 

If saved at all, then, my friends — that is, if provision is 
made for our deliverance from the curse entailed upon sinj 
and means appointed to restore the image of God in our souls, 
and bring us back to that glorious and happy state from 
whence we are fallen and far distant — it must be altogether 
of mere grace on the part of God, nothing moving him thereto 
but the original inherent compassion of his nature, and pity 
for the work of his hands, betrayed and ruined by the malice 
of the devil. "Herein is love," my brethren, even the love 
of God; and let us keep it steadily in view, ascribing to the 
glorious Trinity, in our salvation, what is due to each and to 
all; for it is an unworthy and improper notion of Almighty 
God, to conceive of him as so implacable and severe that he 
was only prevailed on by the interposition of Christ to have 
mercy on fallen man, as a passionate man is sometimes made 
to yield by the entreaties of his friend. It is the undoubted 
doctrine of the Scriptures, that while, as the righteous gov- 
ernor of the universe, he was bound to punish sin, yet as "the 
Lord God, merciful and gracious," he contrived, appointed, 
and accepted those wonderful means, by which, while sin 
should not go unpunished, a door of mercy and hope was 
opened to the sinner. "Oh! the depth of the riches both of 
the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his 
judgments, and his ways past finding out." 

But our salvation, my brethren, is shown to be yet more 
strictly of mere grace, inasmuch as it was unsought and un- 
procurable by any means in our reach. 

Here, my friends, we have an opportunity of viewing sin 
in all its malignity, not only in exposing us to the loss of God's 
favor and the terrors of his wrath, but in hardening the heart 
against them, and deadening the spiritual sense to the desire 
to be delivered from them. The sinner never prays. Of this 
we have a memorable instance in the first transgressors; no 



238 SALVATION THROUGH GEACE. 

symptom of contrition, no sorrow of heart for the offence the}' 
have committed against their Maker and Benefactor, is man- 
ifested- by either of them; they knew and felt that they were 
gnilty, and their guilt led them to hide themselves from Him 
whose voice had heretofore been music to their ears; no sup- 
plication for mercy, no prayer for pardon, no entreaty for a 
mitigation of their sentence, is heard from them, any more 
than from their betraver; nothing is seen in them but the 
hard and sullen temper which disdains acknowledgment and 
resents reproof. Oh! how near to the state and temper of 
devils does sin reduce its votaries; yet, at this very moment, 
did the infinite compassion of God meet them with the mer- 
cies of redemption, unsought, unprocurable. Freely, and of 
his unbounded goodness and love, did "the Father of mercies, 
the God of all comfort and consolation," while denouncing 
the curse under which we all labor, present his only and well 
beloved Son, to shield them and us their progeny from the 
demands of the law, broken and dishonored by their sin, and 
in due time to become that ''seed of the woman" which 
should "bruise the head of the serpent;" and freely did the 
love of Christ move him to undertake the mighty ransom of 
them, and of the countless millions which fell in them. 

Thus is our salvation, from first to last, my brethren, of 
the mere grace and unsought favor of a merciful God. 
"Herein is love," dear brethren, "not that we loved God, but 
that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for 
our sins." that the hard hearts of the impenitent and un- 
godly may melt and soften under this wonderful display of 
God's hatred of their sins and love for their souls. O that 
the proud and lofty despisers of the cross of Christ, may in 
this see on what a sandy foundation their self-righteous hopes 
are built, and, renouncing their own righteousness, submit 
themselves to "tbe righteousness of God, which is by faith of 
Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation 
through faith in his blood, that he might be just and the jus- 
tifier of all that believe in this Redeemer." 

II. For the salvation thus wrought out and offered to sin- 
ners by the gospel, is no otherwise .attainable than through 
the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This is evident, not only from the express declarations of 
Scripture, but from the nature of the thing itself. 



SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. 23$ 

The whole of our salvation being founded on the gratuitous 
-appointment of Almighty God, the means to be used by us in 
the attainment of it must be ordered and directed by the same 
all-wise and gracious Being. Inventions and contrivances of 
men can have no place in this great work, and can only tenet 
to defeat its efficacy on those who in this manner add to ot 
take away from the "more sure word of prophecy." The object 
in view being two-fold, not merely the deliverance of the sin- 
ner from punishment by the substitution of an atonement suf- 
ficient for the expiation of his guilt, but, furthermore, the 
renewal and sanctification of his corrupt and sinful nature, 
without which there can be no salvation, it must follow that' 
He who made us, who saw the full extent of our undoing, and 
knew the fittest means to counteract theapostacy of account- 
able creatures, alone could judge and appoint what was most 
effectual to this end, and at the same time most consonant 
with his own perfections. 

Again, as God was the party offended by human sin, it 
rested solely with himself whether to accept any, or what kind 
of atonement for it, as also what application to make of the 
altered condition of his creature. It was not. for the sinner at 
the time, neither is it for him now, to say by whom or on 
what conditions he will be saved. His part is the deepest 
thankfulness for such an unspeakable gift, with the most 
■earnest and devoted diligence to walk worthy of it. Thus we 
judge in things of a temporal nature, my hearers, and the 
same rule will equally apply to those eternal tilings now under 
consideration. But when to this reasoning we add the clear 
and unequivocal declarations of God's revealed word, as re- 
spects both our ruin and our remedy, there can be no refuge 
but in unbelief. "All have sinned and come short of the glory 
■of God." "There is none righteous, no not one." "Cursed is 
every one that continueth not, in all things written in the 
book of the law, to do them." "As by one man sin entered into 
the world, and death by sin — so death passed upon all men, 
for that all have sinned." "Therefore, as by the offence of 
one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so 
by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men 
unto justification of life." "For when we were yet without 
strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." "For 



240 SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. 

■what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the 
flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, 
and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." "For he hath made 
him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made 
the righteousness of God in him." "For we see Jesus, who 
was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of 
death, crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of 
God, should taste death for every man." "Wherefore God 
also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is 
above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee 
should bow, of things if) heaven, and things in earth, and 
thing6 under the earth." "Neither is there salvation in any 
other, for there is none other name under heaven given among 
men whereby we must be saved, only the name of Jesus 
Christ of Nazareth." Many more passages of Scripture of a 
similar import might be brought forward, my brethren and 
hearers, but these I think quite sufficient, because whoever 
can withstand them would just as readily resist the whole 
artillery of the word of God. Thus is it shown you, my friends, 
that our whole salvation is of the mere grace of Almighty God, 
undeserved, unsought, and unprocurable by us, and that no 
otherwise is it attainable by us than through the Lord Jesus 
Christ. 

Many and various are the reflections, my brethren, which 
rise in the mind on a near view like this of the state and 
condition of accountable creatures, whom a few short years, 
perhaps days, perhaps hours — who can tell? — must consign to 
all the realities of an eternal world, to the righteous judgment 
of God, tu heaven or to hell. There is something deeply af- 
fecting in such a thought, and the more so, when it applies 
to relations and friends, to neighbors and acquaintances, per- 
sons whom we know, for whom we entertain a regard, but of 
whom we are obliged to know that religious considerations 
form none, or but a very small part in their estimate of hap- 
piness. Can it be because they do not believe there is such 
a thing as a future state? This is next to impossible; and if 
you ask them they will tell you they have no doubt of it. Is 
it because they reject the revelation God hath made to us? 
They say no — both by speech and otherwise, for not one of 
them but what hopes for the mercy of God upon his soul; and 



SALTATION THROTTGH GRACE. 241 

otherwise than by revelation we can none of us know any 
thing of mercy with God. To what, then, must we attribute 
this almost universal disregard of the tilings that are most 
surelv believed among us? Alas! mv brethren, to what but 
that love of sin, in some of its deceitful shapes, which is 
stronger than all those cords of love wherewith Goo dailv and 
hourly draws them to himself — more powerful than the com- 
passionate intreaties of Christ, the lively admonitions of the 
Holy Ghost, the reason and conviction of their own minds — 
vea, more alluring than the iovs of heaven, and hardlv re- 
strained by the torments of hell. This is the cause why such 
multitudes of old and young, of high and low, of rich and 
poor, of bond and free, even with the gospel of salvation in 
their hands, prefer a portion in this life, and live without God 
in the world. The aged, too often, it is to be feared, have 
trifled with their day of grace until it has passed away from 
them, never to return. In the middle stage of life, when all 
the faculties are in perfection, and accountability at its height, 
when experience might teach some wisdom, yet then it is that 
the God of this world is most devoutly worshipped. One 
goes to his farm and another to his merchandise, one chases 
ambition and another pursues pleasure, regardless of the 
steady though silent approach of that hour when it shall be 
said unto each, k 'Thon fool, this night thy soul shall be re- 
quired of thee, then whose shall those things be' 5 which thou 
hast provided. 

In early life, when this fleeting scene spreads all its en- 
chantments, when passion warms and hope flatters, when rea- 
son yields, and prudence is yet remote, it is but an unwelcome 
office to hint at the then far off things of eternity; indeed it 
is too commonly an useless one. Yet then is the time: ere 
the heart is hardened, and shame deadened, and the con- 
science seared in the crooked and cruel paths of dissipated, 
sinful pleasure. O for a warning voice to reach the hearts 
of the thousands of young and comparatively innocent crea- 
tures who are now on the turning point of life and death 
eternal. O for a warning voice to reach the hearts of fathers 
and mothers, Christians as well as others, in behalf of the 
rising generation. But, alas! so many fathers and mothers 
look only at this world, that they encourage what they ought 



342 



SALVATION THROUGH GRACE, 



to check, and vitiate the minds while they deck the bodies 
of their offspring in all the meretricious ornaments of allur- 
ing fashion; so that even Christian parents are constrained to 
do like their neighbors, and thus "evil communications cor- 
rupt good manners." O that the young persons and their 
parents who are now present would let me strip the mask 
from this hydra of fashion and folly, that they may see the 
■diseases and death both of body and soul that lurk beneath 
it — that they would let me show them the thorn beneath the 
rose, ere it enter into their flesh and rankle and fester into a 
wounded spirit — that they would let me discover the serpent 
beneath the flower, ere it sting them to madness. O that they 
would hear the voice of one who has tried it in all its depths, 
yea, drank it to the dregs, and only by the love of God in 
Christ Jesus, has been saved from total shipwreck of body 
and soul in hell. O if there is truth in God, if there is warn- 
ing in his word, if there is wisdom in experience, now let it 
take effect, and this deadty evil be put away from us, my 
brethren. Say not with Lot, "Is it not a little one?" Alas! 
know ye not that even in this sense, "a little one shall be- 
come a thousand, and a small one a strong nation?" For the 
beginning of sin, as well as of strife, is like the letting out of 
waters, no one can say where it shall stop. 

But to return. That God, who has no need of the sinful 
man — who cuuld, with the most perfect ease, have called a 
new race of beings into existence, should, nevertheless, prefer 
that method of his mercy which revelation makes known to 
us, to promote his own glory and the final good of his crea- 
tures, must, ever be a subject of the deepest admiration and 
thankfulness, and should teach us that it is not to be trifled 
with. We may be very sure, my hearers, that as the gift of 
Jesus Christ is the highest proof God could give of his love 
towards us, either to reject or to neglect it must be the height 
•of contempt, ingratitude, and rebellion, and can never go un- 
punished. We may, and, alas! we do, too many of us, flatter 
ourselves, that, after all, God will not be so severe as to carry 
his threatenings into full effect; that, some how or another, 
the great mass of irreligious people who are not openly pro- 
fligate and abandoned, will escape the damnation of hell. 
.But what is this, my friends, but one of those many deceits 



SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. 24:3 

i 

of the devil, operating upon our love of sin, with which he 
labors to ensnare souls? what is it but making Christ the min- 
ister of sin, and religion a pious fraud? But we are sure that 
God cannot and will not deceive. We are sure that there is 
no deception in the hatred his pure and holy nature bears 
towards sin in all its shapes. The miseries of the present life, 
the cross of Christ, and the pains of hell, bear witness to its 
malignity; and had it been possible that God should in- 
tend to deceive us for our good by heightening the descrip- 
tion of its destructive nature, this might have been done 
without the humiliation, sufferings, and death, of his only 
Son. What a desperate game, then, must it be to risk our 
immortal souls on so flimsy a delusion! What an awful 
proof of the corruption of all our faculties by the poison of 
sin, that, against light and knowledge, against warning and 
conviction, unmoved by hope, unawed by fear, in defiance 
of God's threatened wrath, in despite of his offered love, in 
contempt of means and mercies, we continue in sin, slight 
the only Saviour, and will not come to him that we may have 
life! Oh! what a spectacle does the world called Christian 
present — God's holy word laid aside, unbelief and impiety 
increasing, the ordinances of religion made light of, the cross 
of Christ slighted, sin and folly triumphant, and the children 
of God to be sought for here and there, like gleaning grapes 
in a vineyard! 

And now, my brethren and hearers, as God hath laid help 
for us upon one who is mighty and able to save, as without 
him we can do nothing acceptable to God, or available for 
the salvation of our souls, let us "consider the Apostle and 
High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," in what he 
hath, by the will of God, done for us. 

He hath removed the barrier raised by human sin betwixt 
God and our souls, and placed mankind in a new relation to 
their Maker, becoming a second Adam or representative of 
the human race. In this sense it is that "the Lord hath laid 
on him the iniquity of us all," and "that he, by the grace of 
God, tasted death for every man," having borne in his own 
body the curse of the law. To Christians, in particular, that 
is, to baptized believers, he hath opened a new and living 
way to the kingdom of heaven, through faith in his blood. 



244 SALVATION THROUGH GRACE. 

He hath fulfilled the conditions of the covenant of works for 
them, and procured a new and more gracious covenant, by 
which repentance and renewed obedience is accepted through 
him instead of sinless perfection. He hath fully declared 
and made known the will of God, for the direction of their 
lives, and left them the example of his own life as the ex- 
planation of it. He hath sent forth the Holt Spirit to be a 
perpetual guide and comfort to his Church, in working out 
their salvation. He hath laid down his life upon the cross 
for their forfeited lives, and poured out his blood as an atone- 
ment to God, for all sins repented of and forsaken. He was 
buried and rose again the third day, thereby giving assurance 
unto all men, that the sacrifice was accepted, and that they 
also shall rise again from the dead. He hath thus brought 
that life and immortality to light, through the gospel, in 
which every man shall be happy or miserable for ever, ac- 
cording to the righteous i'ud<:ment of God on the deeds done 
in the body. And he hath ascended into heaven, where, as 
the head of all principality and power, he rules and governs 
his Church as a son in his own house, watching over his 
people, supplying their wants, and rendering their prayers 
and praises acceptable to God, through his prevailing inter- 
cessions for them. 

All this he hath done for us, my hearers. This he hath 
done and suffered, that he might bring us to God. Of his 
death, as the price of all, he hath commanded us to continue 
a perpetual memorial, until he come again to receive us to 
himself. That memorial is now before you. The mighty 
benefits it represents, you are partakers of, through grace. 
Let us then draw near with true hearts, in full assurance of 
faith, that "if when we were enemies we were reconciled to 
God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we 
shall be saved by his life." And let it be ever in our hearts, 
dear brethren, that "herein is love" indeed, "not that we 
loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the 
propitiation for our sins." 



SERMON XXI. 



NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 



Hebrews ii. 3, 4. 

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first 
began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that 
heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and 
with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? 

The consideration of the question put in the text instructs 
us, my brethren and hearers, how very inexcusable all men 
are who neglect the salvation offered in the gospel, either by 
rejecting it through unbelief, when proposed to them, or by 
living Unworthily of it after they have professed to embrace 
it. There are many considerations which greatly aggravate 
the fault of such persons as contemptuously neglect the pro- 
posal of a favor, which it is botli their duty and their highest 
interest to accept; and many circumstances make them more 
and more inexcusable, and justly to deserve the severest 
punishment for their ingratitude and contempt. Now as we 
regulate our judgments according to this principle, in the 
common affairs of this life, it is but just that it should be ex- 
tended to the higher and more important concerns of the life 
that is to come; and it is to this point, to the equity of the 
case, that St. Paul directs our attention. And to gain your 
attention, my friends, and to engage you in behalf of your 
best interests, to rouse you, if possible, from the heartless 
torpor of indifference to the mercies of redemption, and awa- 
ken you to the worth of your souls, I will endeavor to point 
out from the text itself, what commanding considerations are 
set at naught, and what clear and convincing proofs are 
withstood, by all who neglect the gospel. 

"How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; 
which at the first began to be spoken by the Loed, and was 
confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing 
them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers 



246 NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 

miracles and gifts of the Holt Ghost, according to his own: 
will?" 

In these words are contained, 

I. First the intrinsic goodness and excellency of the thing 
itself, which is rejected. 

A slight acquaintance with the gospel of Christ is suf- 
ficient to impress upon the mind of every man some idea of 
its importance; and as this should naturally incline those who 
possess this advantage to search deeper into its high discove- 
ries, the neglect of this duty is generally attended with a cor- 
responding carelessness, either as to its promises or its threat- 
ening.-, and a deeper engagement with present things. For it 
is when viewed in its whole extent, in its divine origin, its 
gracious purpose and effectual means — it is when considered 
in its application to the condition of man — that we discern 
what the gospel really is, and learn that it is truly a great 
salvation. 

It is a salvation from sin and misery, from the power and 
tyranny of the devil, and from the punishment of eternal 
death. Sin, in its own nature, independent of its being an 
obstinate disobedience to the revealed will of God, is in itself 
every way unreasonable and inexcusable; because it is oppo- 
site to the light of reason, the dictates of natural conscience, 
and the agreeing opinion of all wise and good men; because 
xt is contrary to every idea we can form of the perfections of 
God, destructive to the public welfare of mankind, to the 
health of our own bodies, to the peace of our own minds, and 
to the order, quiet, and comfort of society. The love ami 
practice of sin i.s the subjecting our reason to vile affections, 
to inordinate and brutish appetites, to inflamed and ungov- 
crned passions, than which there cannot be a more abject 
state of slavery imagined for a rational being. To speak after 
the manner of men, how contrary to the dignity of man to 
see and approve what is good, and yet not be able to prevail 
with ourselves to practise it; to be sensible of the destructive 
consequences of sin, and yet, through the strength of evil 
habits, to continue under the power and dominion of it; to 
feel ourselves deprived of our present happiness, and of our 
best hopes of what is to come; to travel through life loaded 
with and conscious of guilt, to lie down in death overwhelmed 



NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 247 

with remorse and despair, which every impenitent sinner 
must do, and yet to continue to cherish such vicious disposi- 
tions and practices, as are the only causes of all this misery,, 
is evidently the most dreadful condition that can be. 

InTow to have a way proposed to us, my hearers, of being 
delivered from this body of sin into the glorious liberty of 
the children of God, of breaking the chain which binds every 
fallen creature to this body of death — to have a method laid 
before us of being rescued from guilt and fear in life, from 
horror and despair in death, and from everlasting burnings 
in eternity, and to be put into a way of securing a quiet con- 
science, the peace of God through life, hope and composure 
in death, and eternal life in mansions of glory for ever and 
ever — 'this is the offer of a great salvation. And evident it 
must be to the equity of our own minds, that whoever shall 
neglect this offer is absolutely inexcusable, and justly de- 
serves to fall into that misery from which he would not ac- 
cept deliverance. Were there, indeed, any other way to ac- 
complish this work, had we a choice in the means of deliv- 
erance from the power and the punishment of sin, the case 
were different; but as this is not so, as salvation is altogether 
of grace, as there is no other name or means under heaven 
given unto men whereby we must be saved, only the name 
of Jesus Cheist of Nazareth, and the means revealed in the 
gospel, the guilt and folly of neglecting it is hereby infinitely 
increased, because it is treating God's offered mercy and fa- 
vor with contempt, and adding ingratitude to rebellion against 
his revealed will, and is therefore worthy of the severest pun- 
ishment. For 

II. Secondly, the further consideration that the gospel is 
an express and positive revelation of the will of God, is a very 
high aggravation of the sin of neglecting so great salvation. 

He that, x»n the information of the gospel, desires not to be 
delivered from the dominion of sin, and acquires no thirst 
after a life of righteousness, for that very reason does not de- 
serve to be saved from the punishment of sin, and is, in his 
very nature, unqualified for the rewards of holiness. But 
when to this preference of sin there is added, moreover, a 
direct contempt of God, the reasonableness of leaving such 
person to himself, and of finally punishing him for his sin, is 



248 NEGLECT OF THB GOSPEL. 

increased into a necessity, because God must and will main- 
tain the honor of his supreme dominion, and vindicate upon 
all such despisers the insult offered to the purity and holiness 
of his divine attributes. When God, in the exercise of his 
mercy and love, has declared unto men his will by an im- 
mediate revelation; when he has given '"his only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but 
have everlasting life;" when he has offered pardon to sinners 
upon their sincere repentance, vouchsafed them the assistance 
of his 1L>ly Spirit, to enable them to fulfil this and every 
other duty enj' lined upon them, and promised them eternal 
life as the reward of their faith and obedience; when, more- 
over, the wrath of God is, by the gospel, most expressly re- 
vealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteous- 
iiess < if men; after all this, to continue still to despise so great 
salvation — what is it but with a high hand to exalt ourselves 
against God — an avowed* 4$sp*8ing and contemning his au- 
thority — an actual daring of his vengeance, and saying, in so 
many words, "we will not have this man to reign over us?" 
And is this the language of all present who have not em- 
braced the g< >spcl, wln> have not said to the world by their pro- 
feased subjection to its holy requirements, that they are on 
the Lord's side, or who are walking unworthy of such pro- 
fession? Yes, my .brethren anji hearers, thus heaven inter- 
pret the language of your actions, of your course and con- 
vereatioD in the world. Whatever you may think, whatever 
you may intend hereafter, if you are now unknown to the 
gospel, I'V an open confession of the Lord Jesus Christ be- 
fore men, you are unknown to God in any saving sense, and 
unentitled to the hope of the gospel; you are neglecters of 
this great salvation, purchased at so high a price, so freely 
offered to you, so earnestly pressed upon you, and pregnant 
with such infinite consequences. For on this mighty inter- 
est no neutrality can be permitted. — u IIe that is not for me 
is against me," saith the Lord. And this is confirmed to us 
by a variety of considerations. For, if sinning barely against 
the law of nature, the law written in the heart, was sufficient 
to consign sinners to this sort of unavoidable destruction, well 
may we ask, "How shall we escape' if we" continue to "neg- 
lect this great salvation," and to sin against the law of nature 



NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL, 249 

and revelation united. "As many as have sinned without 
law, shall also perish without law, and as many as have 
sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law." If the ser- 
vant that knew not his Lord's will, who had no express rev- 
elation of the will of God, was nevertheless to be beaten with 
stripes, because he did things in themselves worthy of stripes, 
how much more severely must they expect to be punished, 
who do the same things in direct opposition to the express 
will and known command of God? Are there any present, 
then, who know this and yet neglect the gospel? "How shall" 
they "escape?" Are there any present who know not the 
conditions of the gospel? God forbid! But lest there should 
be such a one, and to refresh your memories, hear them now 
— "Repent and believe the gospel;" "repent and be converted 
every one of you, that your sins may be blotted out;" "except 
ye repent ye shall all likewise perish," for God "now com- 
mandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath ap- 
pointed a day in the which he will judge the world in right- 
eousness, by that man whom he hath ordained:" "We must 
all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one 
may receive according to the deeds done in the body, whe- 
ther they be good or whether they be evil." 

If, therefore, after that the clearest light is come into the 
world, and none under the gospel can plead ignorance of his 
duty, men will still "neglect this great salvation," there be- 
ing no excuse left, no alleviation of their condemnation is to 
be expected. They must perish for ever. 

III. Thirdly, the dignity and excellency of the person by 
and through whom this salvation is proposed to us, is a fur- 
ther aggravation of the sin of rejecting it. "It first began to 
be spoken by the Lord." 

The dignity of the person by whose interposition any favor 

is procured, and by whom it is transmitted, shows both the 

greatness and importance of the thing itself, and the love and 

condescension of the original author of it; and the neglecting 

it in this case, implies not only folly, contempt, and rebellion, 

but, moreover, the greatest obstinacy also, which no authority 

can prevail over, together with the basest ingratitude, which 

no kindness can overcome. And surely, my friends and 

hearers, whoever is guilty of this complicated opposition to 
[Vol. 2,— *17.] 



250 NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 

God, all of which is implied in the neglect of this great saH- 
ration, must be confessed to deserve most justly the severest 
of punishments. This is what our Saviour compelled the- 
Jews to acknowledge, and made them condemn themselves 
for it with their own mouths, in the parable of the house- 
holder who, having planted a vineyard and let it out to hus- 
bandmen, first sent his servants to receive the fruits of it; 
and when the husbandmen had resisted and slain the ser- 
vants, he afterwards sent his own son to them, saying, "Surely 
they will reverence my son;" but hira also they resisted and 
slew — whereupon, when our Saviour appealed to the Phari- 
sees themselves to iudo-e what it was fit for the lord of the 
vineyard to do unto those husbandmen, they immediately 
replied, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and 
let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, who shall render 
him the fruits in their seasons." Unwarily, thus, they passed 
a just sentence against themselves, that for rejecting the gos- 
pel preached by Christ himself, they deserved a severer con- 
demnation than their fathers, who had before rejected the 
preaching and admonitions of the prophets. 

And may not a similar condemnation be, in like manner, 
drawn from the mouth of every soul under the gospel who 
neglects this great salvation? Is it not, in fact, a refusal, by 
such, of the fruits of the vineyard to the great Householder, 
through his only Son? And is not this the very application 
St. Paul points us to when he says, "now all these things 
happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for 
our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come." 
Christians are now the Lord's vineyard, gospel lands are his 
inheritance, and if any of us refuse the fruits in their season, 
we bring ourselves into the same condemnation, and must 
perish in the same miserable destruction. 

The argument in favor of the gospel, from the superior 
dignity of the Revealer, is frequently applied by the apostle 
in this epistle. In the words immediately before my text, he 
uses it to enforce the duty of embracing the gospel. "If the 
word spoken by angels was steadfast," saith he, "and every 
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of 
reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, 
which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord." In the 



NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 251 

tenth chapter he presses the same argument upon their at- 
tention in these words — "Pie that despised Moses' Law, died 
without mercy: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, 
shall he be thought worthy, who had trodden under foot the 
Son of God?" And enforces it in the twelfth chapter by a 
very solemn exhortation — u See that ye refuse not Him that 
speaketh; for if tbey escaped not who refused Him that spake 
on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away 
from him that speaketh from heaven." 

Lastly, the strength and clearness of the evidence, and the 
number and greatness of the proofs, made use of to assure 
men of the truth and certainty of the gospel, is the highest 
aggravation of the guilt of those who neglect or disobey it. 

"The gospel began to be spoken by the Lokd, and was af- 
terwards confirmed to us by them that heard him. God 
also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders, and 
with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according 
to his own will." 

The stronger the evidence of any truth be, the more inex- 
cusable is the opposition made to it. And the highest ag- 
gravation of this crime is, to continue to oppose a truth after 
the best and greatest evidence has been given of it that the 
nature of the thing was capable of. In such a case, opposi- 
tion can proceed from nothing but either wilful obstinacy and 
perverseness, or the love of sin in some of its many shapes. 

]STow this is plainly the case of those who reject the gospel 
after the undeniable evidences which have been given of its 
truth. Their rejecting it cannot proceed from want of suffi- 
cient conviction, but only from a love of vice, and a resolu- 
tion not to be reformed, which is a height of wickedness from 
which the hope, even, of excuse is cut off, and which, the 
only remedy being rejected, there is no means of amending. 
When clear light is come into the world, and men still con- 
tinue their works of darkness, then it becomes evident that 
their wickedness does not proceed from ignorance and want 
of instruction, but from choice. "They love darkness rather 
than light," and stand in open defiance of God and his su- 
preme authority. This is what our Saviour says of the Jews, 
"If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had 
sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin. If I had not 



252 NEGLECT OF THB GOSPEL. 

done among them the works which no other man did, they 
Lad not had sin; but now they have both seen and hated both 
me and my Father." This is the reason of his declaring to 
the cities of Judea "that it should be more tolerable for So- 
dom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for them;" 
because, "if the mighty works that were done in them had 
been done in Sodom, it would have repented in sackcloth 
and ashes." This is the reason of his declaring to those Pha- 
risees who blasphemed the Holt Spirit, that they should 
never have forgiveness, neither in this world nor in that 
which is to come; because they resisted the last and greatest 
means that God would ever make use of to brins; them to re- 
pentance; and not. only resisted it, but reviled it also. They 
saw with their own eyes the clearest and strongest proofs of 
the truth of the gospel that could possibly be given, and yet 
tLey not only withstood the evidence of those mighty works, 
but ascribed them, moreover, to the agency of the devil. 
Their crime was singular and unexampled, and their con- 
demnation was likewise singular. But all others, also, who 
reject the gospel, are, in proportion to the greatness of the 
evidence they resist, and according to the degree of their 
obstinacy and wickedness in so doing, in like manner inex- 
cusable, and despisers of Him that speaketh from heaven. 

Upon these commanding, just, and reasonable grounds, 
re?ts the claim of the gospel of Christ to ready and hearty 
reception from all mankind, and when in addition to this, it 
is their highest interest to embrace it joyfully and thankful- 
ly, to seek its grace, and to occupy themselves diligently in 
finding the pearl of great price, there cannot be the slightest 
excuse for indifference, even, to its lively hope. Thousands, 
however, live in the midst of its light, its privileges, its 
blessings — thousands look to it in some degree for hope as to 
hereafter, who are yet perfect strangers to any act or endea- 
vor on their part, to obtain its grace, and experience its trans- 
forming power. How, then, shall they escape? 

It is but seldom, my friends, that we hear of an open and 
acknowledged rejecter of the gospel; but we have in abun- 
dance the unhappy experience of a carelessness and neglect 
of its exhortations, encouragement, and commands, which 
amount to the same thing in fact, and must prove the same 



NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 253 

in the event to those who continue thus. How shall they 
who are thus careless and indifferent as to God and their own 
souls — how shall they escape? Would to God that those now 
before me in this little assembly, who have no interest in the 
gospel by any personal submission to the law of Christ; who 
have never, by any one act of their lives, unfurled the ban- 
ner of the cross over them, and said to the world, I am on 
the Lord's side; who have no claim on the mercy of God, be- 
yond baptismal engagements, which they have repeatedly 
trodden under foot; who know nothing of repentance and 
contrition for their accumulated sin in this respect, beyond 
the feeble intention of future amendment; who are engaged 
with the world, or fluttering down the stream of sin and van- 
ity, of thoughtlessness and unconcern — -would to God they 
could be prevailed upon to ask their souls this question, while 
there is yet, through the goodness of God, time, opportunity, 
and means to escape. For what is thy life, my fellow sin- 
ner? A certainty or an uncertainty? And what would be 
your condition, neglecters of this great salvation, should God 
this night require your souls? How would you appear? What 
could you answer? Oh! it will be a heart-sinking sound to 
hear the Lord Jesus Christ say, "I never knew you." And 
as God is true, it must and will be said to every soul under 
the gospel who denies the Lord that bought him, by refusing 
himself to the profession and practice of his religion. '"Who- 
soever shall confess me before men him will I also confess 
before my Father which is in heaven, but whosoever shall 
deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father 
which is in heaven." Why stand ye then here all the day idle? 
Hath no man hired you? God is my witness that I have of- 
fered you the work and the wages of the gospel, but the 
world has the greater attraction, and what can the world do 
for your souls but sink them into deeper, and deeper, and 
deeper perdition? What can it plead for you in the day of ac- 
count, when the reward of your hands shall be given you, when 
you shall eat the fruit of your doings for ever? Has the world 
any atonement for sin, an} r intercession for sinners, to present 
unto God in your behalf? If it has not, and you feel at this 
moment that it will not answer in that awful day, O be per- 
suaded to carry your thoughts onward till you learn where 



254 NEGLECT OF THE GOSPEL. 

only mercy is, where it may be sought and can be found eTen 
now — and then ask yourselves, under the solemn certainty 
of death and judgment, "How shall we escape if we neglect 
so great salvation?" 

Xow, to Him who loved us and fjave his onlv begotten Son 
to die for us, to Him who redeemed us to God and washed 
us from our sins in his own blood, and to Him who sanctifi- 
eth all the elect people of God — to Father, Son, and Holt 
Ghost, be glory, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen. 






SEEMON XXIL 

THE WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE NOT TO BE NEGLECTED 



Acts xxiv. 25. 

And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to com*:. 
cFelix trembled, and answered, Go thy way For this time; when I have a'C0£- 
■venient season, I will call for thee. 

"Whatever the state of our thoughts may be in regard to 
religion, or whatever the practice of our lives as respects the 
.great and universal standard of moral justice, there is in 
every man a sense of retribution and accountability to the 
Supreme and invisible Governor of the Universe, which 
meets the sinful propensities of our fallen nature with so 
pointed a reproof, as to render men inexcusable in the neg- 
lect of so faithful a monitor. 

Whether the power of this principle, which we call natu- 
ral conscience, be in itself sufficient to guide men to that 
moral rectitude which is their first duty towards each other, 
may admit of much -difference of opinion. This much, how- 
ever, we are warranted in saying, from the highest authority, 
that to the mass of mankind, in every age of the world, it is 
the standard by which the righteous Judge of all the earth 
will regulate his dealings in the great day of eternity — "For 
those who have not the law are a law unto themselves, which 
show the work of the law written in their hearts; their con- 
science also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean 
while accusing or else excusing one another." Upon this 
principle the apostle lays it down as the undoubted doctrine 
of revelation, that "as many as have sinned without law shall 
also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the 
law shall be judged by the law." 

However, therefore, we may be disposed to settle the ques- 
tion as to the power of natural conscience, and to consider it, 
as some do, as sufficient of itself, without the help of revela- 
tion, to bring men to that state of moral perfection which is 



256 THE "WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE 

required of them by their Maker, and is essential to their 
peace and happiness both here and hereafter, yet in this we 
must all agree, that such is the depravity and perverseness 
of human nature, that something more powerful than the 
mere conscience of right and wrong — something more quick- 
ening than the mere knowledge of a judgment to come, is 
essential to give to conscience and revelation united their 
proper effect. Of this our own experience might satisfy us, 
my brethren. "We are not only furnished, in common with 
the Heathen, with the work of the law written in our hearts, 
but with the full and clear discovery of God's pure and per- 
fect law. We have not only, in common with the great body 
of mankind, a confused apprehension of a future judgment, 
but the explicit knowledge of the rewards and punishments 
of eternity. We have not only the inward motions and 
checks of natural conscience and enlightened reason, but the 
convincing power of Goo's Holy Spirit speaking within us. 
And yet what multitudes, like Felix, yea, even more har- 
dened than that poor Heathen — for we read that he trembled 
under the convincing power of St. Paul's reasoning — what 
thousands in this Christian land hear continually of death 
and judgment, of heaven and hell, without being moved at 
all, except, perhaps, to scoff at them either by speech or con- 
duct, oftentimes by both; while, of the few who occasionally 
manifest some symptoms of concern, the Roman governor is 
a faithful copy, in that procrastinating temper which risks 
doing despite to the Spirit of grace, by putting off till to- 
morrow the convictions of to-day. 

To show you the great and increasing danger of thus tri- 
fling with your most serious concern, I shall follow the ex- 
ample of the apostle, and reason with yon, in the 

First place, of u righteousness, temperance, and judgment 
to come." I shall 

Next endeavor to point out the guilt and folly of neglect- 
ing the warnings of your conscience, and the impressions 
made on your minds by the word of God, whether preached 
or read; and, then, 

Conclude with an application of the whole. 

"And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and 
judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy 



NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. 



257 



way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will 
call for thee." 

I. That what I may have to say on the first head may be 
the more impressive, I shall preface it by an explanation of 
the points which the apostle pressed upon Felix, to-wit: 
"righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come." These 
are alike essential, though in different degrees, to the Heathen, 
to the infidel, and to the believer. To the first, they are the 
law written in the heart; to the second, they are the substi- 
tute for revealed religion; and to the third, they are the prac- 
tical effect of the grace of God upon the renewed creature. 

By righteousness, as here used by the apostle, we t;re to 
understand justice, the rendering to all men their just claims 
upon us, and this not only in a pecuniary sense, but in that 
extent which is demanded by a common origin, a common 
nature, a mutual dependence on each other for whatever can 
contribute to the advancement of general or particular hap- 
piness, and by a common end. 

By temperance, which would have been better expressed 
by the word continence, is meant the rule and mastery of our 
natural lusts, passions, and appetites, so that they are re- 
strained from hurting either ourselves or others. 

By a judgment to come, is to be understood, that account 
which every one of us shall give to God for the use of a 
rational nature, for the light of revealed truth, and for the 
mercies of redemption by Jesus Christ. 

Come, then, my hearers, especially those who are as yet in 
opposition to the gospel, let us reason together of these things. 
In this short abstract of what the Lord our God requires of 
us, of what the gospel proposes, and is provided to work in 
us by the transforming power of grace, what is there to which 
any of you should be opposed? Are you, indeed, enemies to 
integrity and fair dealing among men, to peace and order in 
society, to quiet and repose in the world? Are you desirous 
that the beastly passions of our nature should be set free 
from the restraints of law and conscience, and lewdness and 
incontinence be allowed to revel in unrestrained debauchery? 
Are you willing that those checks to the commission of se- 
cure and secret wickedness, which the apprehensions of fu- 
turity alone supply, should be removed from the consciences 



268 THE WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE 

of wicked men? No, jou will say God forbid that in any of 
these respects the salutary influence of law and religion on 
the welfare of the world should be done away. Why, then, 
let me ask, has not that religion, whose object and aim it is 
to enforce and enlarge all the relative duties of life, to in- 
crease the sum of human happiness in time and to perpetu- 
ate it in eternity, your decided countenance and support? 
Can any one of you — can the collected ingenuity of all put 
together, render a reason of any kind (for I will not call for a 
satisfactory one) of your neglect of religion? 

But let me reason with you further. Are you not aware 
that all temporal blessings, that security of life and property, 
that the endearing relations of family and kindred, with all 
that sweetens the pilgrimage of this world to us poor, perish- 
ing creatures, depend for their whole value on the sanctions 
of religion? For, however wisely human laws may be con- 
trived, however severely their penalties may be enforced, it 
is nevertheless to men's natural apprehensions of hereafter 
that they owe their chief power. The sanctity of an oath, 
on which the life, the property, the character, peace, and 
comfort of every man more or less depend, derives its whole 
importance from this, that "verily there is a God that judgeth 
in the earth." And the penalty of death, the highest which 
human laws can inflict, derives its chief terror from the ap- 
prehension in the criminal of what awaits him after death. 
Hence it follows, undeniably, that all neglect or contempt of 
religion is a public offence, inasmuch as it saps the founda- 
tions of social order, and tends directly to the downfall of all 
that is venerable and desirable in life; and every individual 
is just so far concerned in the prevalence and advancement 
of religion among mankind, as he is interested for life and 
property, for public peace and private repose. 

Thus might I continue to reason with you, my friends, and 
unanswerably too, even from temporal considerations. What, 
then, ought to be the effect, when we extend our reasonings 
to those which are eternal; when we consider the awful per- 
fections of Almighty God, the astonishing discoveries made 
to us by revelation, the wonderful method of our redemption 
by his only Son becoming a sacrifice for our sins, with all the 
jneans provided for the renewal and sanctitication of sinful 



NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. 259 

creatures — and that it is our unspeakable privilege to be 
called to the knowledge of this grace, and to the hope of 
eternal life through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of 
the truth? Where can the shadow of a reason be found for 
indifference to such a lively hope, much more for contempt 
and opposition to what reason, revelation, and conscience, 
unite in pressing upon us as our first duty, our highest and 
best interest? Let me reason with you a little further, mv 
friends. Would the profession and practice of religion make 
you less valuable members of society? — worse men, worse 
citizens, worse husbands and wives, worse parents and chil- 
dren, worse relations and friends? You cannot think so. 
"Would they interfere with your progress and advancement 
in the present life? In no shape whatever, unless, indeed, 
that advancement depended on unrighteous gain, or was 
sought for the sake of intemperate enjoyment; for religion re- 
quires us to deny ourselves of nothing but ungodliness and 
worldly lusts. Is it any hardship, is it, indeed, grievous to 
you, to be true in your sayings, just in your dealings, merci- 
ful and compassionate to your fellow creatures, to do unto all 
men as ye would thev should do unto you? Tet this is the 
law and the prophets. Is there any thing disgraceful or dis- 
honorable in acknowledging your dependence upon your 
heavenly Father, in praising him for the abundance of his 
mercy and goodness, in worshipping his glorious majesty, in 
reverencing his boundless power and might, and in setting 
your hearts to obey his righteous laws? Yet to fear God and 
keep his commandments is the whole duty of man. Is there 
any thing discouraging in the hope of eternal life? Yet this 
is assured to the believer, and to the believer only, in the 
gospel of Christ. Oh, my hearers, what shall we say to 
these things? What is this world, and all its perishing vanities, 
to heaven and immortal glory? What will it profit you in 
the end, if, for a portion of time, you give your souls in ex- 
change? Thus you see that the reasonableness of religion is 
the great reproach of those who neglect it; for "what doth 
the Lord thy God require of thee, O man, but to do justly, 
to love mercy, and to walk humblv with thv God?*' And 
thus might I continue to reason with you, my hearers, from 
the nature of right and wrong, from the conscience of your 



260 THE WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE 

own minds, and from the agreement of both with God's re- 
vealed word. But as sufficient has been said to satisfy all who 
are not hardened against truth and reason, I shall pass on to the 

II. Next head of my discourse, in which I proposed to point 
out to you the guilt and. folly of neglecting the warnings of 
your conscience, and the impressions made on your minds by 
the word of God, whether preached or read. 

As it hath pleased God to remove the disability of our fal- 
len condition, so as to make us capable of religion, and this 
in a manner consistent with his glorious perfections and our 
qualifications as intelligent, moral creatures, it follows that 
we have a part to perform in working out our own salvation. 
To understand what that part is, should, therefore, be our first 
duty, and to perform it when known, our most earnest endea- 
vor. For the one, we must go to revelation, to the word 
which God in these last days hath spoken unto us by his Son; 
for the pther, we must apply ourselves to the use of those 
means by which God works in us both to will and to do of 
his good pleasure. Now these means are, first, that clear dis- 
covery of his will concerning us, made in the Scriptures of 
our faith; next, the reason and conscience of our own minds; 
and, lastly, the help and power of his Holy Spirit, by whose 
enlightening, sanctifying influences the two first become pro- 
fitable to our eternal salvation; and the constant, unvarying 
agreement of these three is a powerful proof that they are 
alike divine in their origin. Hence it follows, that the guilt 
of neglecting, opposing, and stifling the warnings of the mon- 
itor within us, and of the impressions made upon our minds 
by the word of God, is precisely the guilt of rejecting the 
counsel of God against our own souls, perversely setting our- 
selves in opposition to his known will, slighting his promises, 
defying his threatening^, and daring his vengeance. And 
the folly of acting thus in a matter of such unspeakable im- 
portance as the loss or salvation of our immortal souls, is 
manifested by the following particulars: — 

First, all the helps and advantages we enjoy for the ad- 
vancement of religion in our souls, are none of them of our 
own procuring, but the free gift of God's mercy to undeserv- 
ing creatures; therefore, they are not at our command to come 
and go at our bidding. "We are saved by grace." 



NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. 261 

Secondly, we are threatened with the loss of them if slight- 
ed or abused — "From him that hath not shall be taken away 
even that which he hath." 

"Thirdly, if deprived of them, all spiritual attainment is at 
an end — "Without me," says our Lord, "ye can do nothing." 

If to these we add, that it is the very nature of sin persisted 
in, to harden the heart, and render men callous to reproof 
and admonition; that all habits are strengthened, by indul- 
gence; that our repentance and. reformation must be comple- 
ted in the short and uncertain period of the present life; we 
cannot but see that carelessness and neglect, thoughtlessness 
and delay, in such a case, is not merely folly, but the frantic 
madness of despising our own mercies and provoking God to 
take them from us. And so great is our danger in this re- 
spect, that we are, above all other things, cautioned against 
grieving, quenching., and doing despite to the Spirit of grace. 
"He that being often reproved hardeneth himself, shall sud- 
denly be destroyed and that without remedy." "For this 
cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should 
believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believe not 
the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." And yet in 
defiance of danger, in despite of warnings, what multitudes 
set aside the invitations of the gospel, the reason of their own 
minds, the voice of conscience, and the affectionate reproofs 
and admonitions of God's Holy Spirit. What numbers, like the 
poor Heathen mentioned in the text, say to the united testimony 
of God and nature, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a 
convenient season I will call for thee." What an epitome of 
human nature is this Roman governor! How exactly may 
every procrastinating, delaying sinner behold his own case 
in this particular trait of the character of Felix. How strik- 
ingly is the power of conscience set before us in the alarm 
which this cruel and rapacious, this unjust and incontinent 
Heathen experienced while St. Paul reasoned with him of 
the consequences which must follow from the righteous judg- 
ment of God; and yet he had nothing but the light of nature 
and the witness of his own spirit to testify of the reasonable- 
ness, truth, and certainty of the apostle's argument. If, then, 
the amount of all that the religion of the gospel requires of 
us is thus found written in our hearts by the finger of God — ■ 



262 THE WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE 

if the natural apprehensions of what his infinite justice, pu- 
rity, and holiness demand from reasonable creatures are thus 
sufficient to alarm the guilty and show the sinner. the folly 
of his ways, what power of language can express the mad- 
ness of those who, to this universal testimony, have the clear 
and express declaration of the wrath of God revealed from 
heaven against all unrighteousness of men — the explicit 
knowledge that God hath appointed a clay, in the which he 
will judge the world in righteousness — the awful assurance 
that eternal happiness or everlasting misery will follow that 
judgment, according as we have done good or evil — with the 
blessed promise of the Holy Spirit to make effectual the na- 
tural powers and faculties wherewith God hath endowed 
them? Beloved, says the apostle, if our hearts condemn us 
— if the natural reason and conscience of our own minds bear 
witness against us, God is greater than our hearts and know- 
eth all things; he sees the secret springs and motives of all 
our conduct; he, therefore, sees deeper into our guilt, and 
must surely condemn us. 

Thus, my hearers, we are left without excuse every way. 
Even the plea of ignorance is taken from us; and deep must 
be the damnation of those who continue to turn a deaf ear 
to the warnings of conscience and the counsel of God by his 
word and Spirit. 

The application of what we have said is both general and 
particular. 

As we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,. 
and shall receive "according to the deeds done in the body," 
the consequences of that day should be uppermost in our 
thoughts and foremost in our endeavors; and as it hath pleased 
God to favor us with the rule which shall e;uide his righteous 
judgment, the award of that tribunal ought to be the test by 
which to try the worth of our worldly condition. Whatever 
our state in this life may be, whether high or low, rich or 
poor, bond or free, the duties belonging to it form the second 
great branch of the whole duty of man, and are all compre- 
hended under the two heads of justice and temperance. In 
the observance of the one, we render to all their clues; by 
the other, we are restrained from whatever may prove hurt- 
ful either to ourselves or to others. And these points, we are 



NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. 263 

informed by our Lord, in the gospel, will be the subject mat- 
ter of his righteous judgment. Hence we learn, my hearers, 
that the great practical purpose of Christ's religion is, the 
restraint of our sinful, hurtful passions, and the improvement 
of our moral natures to the attainment of all goodness, right- 
eousness, and truth. For he that in these things serveth 
Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men. 

By this rule, then, let us try ourselves and prove our re- 
ligion; learning, by the example of Felix, that there can be 
no sure and lasting peace to the unjust and incontinent — that, 
sooner or later, our sins will find us out — that, however se- 
curely or secretly committed, however we may be able to 
stifle the voice of conscience, yet a day is coming when they 
will be openly exposed before an assembled universe. If a 
poor Heathen was constrained to tremble at the prospect of 
God's righteous judgment on the injustice and lewdness of 
his life, what alarms should seize their consciences, who-, 
under the light of the gospel, perhaps with the profession of 
it in their mouths, not only do such things, but have pleasure 
in them that do them. By the circumstances which belong 
to this passage of Scripture, we are instructed, that however- 
profitable the practice of fraud and iniquity may be — how- 
ever high the chase of ambition may exalt us — however 
gratifying the indulgence of our sensual passions may be, yet 
a weight is suspended to such practices which acts with ac- 
cumulating power in sinking such as follow the lusts of the 
flesh to the lowest grade of infamy. Season and revelation 
alike condemn the unjust and sensual person; and the ad- 
monition of God's Holy Spirit is responded to by the ver- 
dict of conscience, in that state of tremor and alarm with 
which a sense of guilt, the fear of discovery even among 
their fellow creatures, with the more terrible apprehensions 
of a future judgment, haunt the fears of wicked men. From 
this preponderating weight there is no escape but by the sur- 
render of every hope which can cheer the valley and shadow 
of death by prospects beyond the grave. The voice of con- 
science may, indeed, be silenced by custom in sin, but it is 
not, therefore, dead. Awake it will, most commonly even 
in this life, as we see exemplified in the case before us; but 
if not here, yet surely hereafter, when a certain fearful look- 



264 THE WARNINGS OF CONSCIENCE 

ing for of judgment and fiery indignation shall consume the 
adversary, not only of God and his fellow creatures, but of 
his own soul. 

The particular application of the subject, is to the most 
universal sin of which mankind is guilty. Some excel in one 
species of wickedness and some in another; but in slighting 
and stifling the secret voice of conscience, in rejecting the 
admonition of God's holy word, in opposing the convictions 
of God's Holt Spirit, where is the person who is not, in some 
good degree, guilty before God, and at this moment conscious 
of having repeatedly said, if not in words, yet in conduct, 
"Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season 
I will call for thee." 

My fellow sinner, who art thus treasuring up wrath against 
the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of 
God, let the example of poor Felix, and what little I have 
been enabled to say upon it, be a warning to thee for the 
time to come. I know thy mind is now busy, and a contest 
is going on within thee, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, 
and the Spekit against the flesh — the pride of thy uuhumbled 
heart against the guilt and folly of persisting in rebellion 
against God and nature, against the reason of thy own mind, 
the convictions of thy conscience, and the religion of the gos- 
pel. Oh! let me now throw my mite into the scale of thy 
salvation, and, in the impressive words of my Redeemer, ask 
thee, "What will it profit thee to gain the whole world and 
lose thy own soul;!" What will the gains of injustice, the en- 
joyments of sinful pleasure, the praise of men, or the ap- 
plause of scoffers and mockers at religion, do for thee in that 
dav when God shall iudo'e the secrets of men according to 
the gospel of Christ? O let not the secret workings of thy 
heart this day, then, rise in judgment against thee, and another 
putting off to a more convenient season the many calls and 
invitations of God's Holy SrrRiT shut thee up, perhaps, in 
judicial blindness and hardness of heart. Make not a preach- 
ed gospel the savor of death to thy soul, by rejecting the 
truth which is according to godliness, but surrender thyself 
to that word which now whispers, "This is the way, walk 
ye in it." 

My christian brethren, let us, too, take warning by the ad- 



NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. 265 

monition given us in the case of Felix. Let us make con- 
science of what we profess. Remember, that unto whom 
mnch is given, of the same shall much be required. That not 
every one that saith to Christ, Lord, Lord, shall enter into 
the kingdom of heaven. That to all workers of iniquity, to 
all unchaste and unclean persons, no matter how loud and 
zealous they may be in a profession of religion, he will say, 
"I know you not, depart from me, ye cursed." Remember 
that the agreement of practice with profession constitutes the 
beauty of holiness; that we are bound to exercise ourselves 
continually to have a conscience void of offence towards God 
and towards men. Therefore, my brethren, "If ye know 
these things, happy are ye if ye do them." An approving 
conscience is the witness of God within us. Watch, there- 
fore, for that testimony; and when, in the many trials of the 
present life, temptation may get the better of you, listen to 
the reproof conscience shall then bring with a ready mind, 
follow the direction it shall give, and let instant repentance 
and reparation be the convenient season to call for that help 
which God is ever ready to give to those who tremble at his 
word. Thus shall the kingdom of God be set up in your 
hearts, and righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, 
give you a foretaste of that blessedness which awaits the 
faithful at the right hand of God. 



[Vol. 2,-*18.] 



SEEMOK XXIII. 

A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 



John iii. 18, middle clause. 
But he that believeth not, is condemned already. 

. The great purpose of revelation is, to discover to us mor- 
tals, those things which our senses can by no means compass, 
or of which we at best can have but a feeble and obscure 
perception. Though the visible things of God, the wonders 
of the material world, hourly declare his eternal power and 
godhead, and present him to us in all the splendor of his in- 
communicable attributes; though the daily and hourly mer- 
cies of his providence might teach us that lesson of love, grati- 
tude, and thankfulness, which protection, support, and sup- 
ply should bring home to our hearts; yet our own experience, 
to say nothing of the great record of human depravity, might 
instruct us that more is needed than the outward natural 
knowledge of God, to contribute to our present or future 
comfort. The things that may be known of God, from the 
contemplation of his works, though grand and impressive, 
are, nevertheless, oppressive and overcoming to our feeble 
and depraved faculties. So infinite is the distance between 
the glorious' Creator, and the poor, finite, perishing creature, 
that it appears presumptuous in the extreme to venture upon 
such lofty meditations. Yet from the very constitution of our 
nature we are drawn to such contemplations. Whenever our 
nobler faculties are disengaged from the immediate contact 
of sensible things, the spirit within us seeks her kindred 
skies, and the active mind labors to draw aside the veil which 
shrouds the Eternal from our view. But, alas! my friends, 
all is darkness and conjecture to our limited powers; and 
what is worse, all is overwhelming and comfortless to our la- 
boring, anxious minds: clouds and darkness are round about 
him, so that man cannot search out the Almighty to perfec- 
tion. "What he can attain to, independent of revelation, fills 



268 A WAENING TO UNBELIEVERS. 

him with wonder, amazement, and fear; so that he is ready 
now, as on the first transgression, to hide himself from God — 
to make his escape from Him, in whom he lives, and moves, 
and has his being, by whose power he is protected and pre- 
served, by whose mercy he is spared," by whose bounty his 
wants are supplied, and by whose compassionate love all his 
disability, ignorance, poverty, weakness, and sinfulness, is 
provided for and removed. 

Could this be so, my hearers, were every thing between 
God and our souls at peace and in harmony? Could the con- 
templation of the only wise, infinitely good, and most merci- 
ful God, fill our hearts with fear and dismay, were we not 
conscious of such a separation between him and us as can be 
removed by no human power? Could our natural notions of 
that great and good Being who governs the universe be pain- 
ful and oppressive, were it not that we feel that we are, every 
way, in every imagination and thought of our hearts, and in 
the whole practice of our lives, opposed to his righteous gov- 
ernment, and unworthy of his regard? Impossible, my bre- 
thren; there must be a cause for every effect, and the same 
argument which is conclusive for the being of God, is equally 
strong in its application to the existence of sin, as the fatal 
cause of that enmity and opposition to him, which is mani- 
fested in the natural man. If, with the volume of nature 
spread out before us, we can perceive nothing of God but 
what binds us up in sullen subjection to his infinite power — 
if his eternal godhead, abstract from what is revealed, fur- 
nishes no channel of help, no comfort of hope, no offer of 
mercy, to such creatures as we are, what do we not owe, my 
friends, to that revelation which so richly supplies our seve- 
rest want, and so freely provides for our highest comfort, in 
the knowledge of God reconciling the world to himself by 
Jesus Christ, and in the discoveries made to us of our origi- 
nal, present, and future condition? Here, and here only, can 
our anxious fears and restless conjectures find repose. And, 
however impiety may rave, or infidelity muster up her shat- 
tered arguments and powerless objections — however the cares 
of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of 
other things may, and, alas! do, defeat the gracious purpose 
of God in the revelation of his Son, yet, in the closing scene 



A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 269 

of this life's pilgrimage, when the hopes and fears of time 
give place to those of eternity, the united testimony of saint 
and sinner bears witness to that recorded truth by which the 
everlasting condition of each shall be determined; then it is, 
when trembling on the verge of a new being, that those who, 
in the day of health and strength, in the pursuit of profit and 
pleasure, care for none of these things, and harden their 
hearts against the truth, show that there is a witness for rev- 
elation which no sophistry can defeat. 

To that revelation, then, let me now direct your most ear- 
nest attention, as the only source from whence you can de- 
rive any useful knowledge of yourselves, any comfortable 
knowledge of God, or any hope that is worth depending upon; 
and, in going along with me in the consideration of the mo- 
mentous discovery made in the words of my text, prepare 
yourselves to settle the most awful inquiry which can occupy 
the thoughts of accountable beings, to-wit: whether yon are 
believers, in the Scripture sense of the word, or whether you 
are yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity. 

"For he that believeth not is condemned already." 

To assist what I can in this very important inquiry, in the 

First place, I shall show you the ground on which our 
Lord asserts the fact declared in the words of the text — 'that 
every unbeliever is condemned already. 

Secondly, I shall point out to you the method which God 
hath been pleased to provide and appoint for the removal of 
this condemnation. In the 

Third place, I shall show you what is meant by believing 
in Christ; and, then, 

Conclude with an application of the subject to the differ- 
ent descriptions of those who are now in the presence of God 
for life or for death. 

I. First, the ground on which our Lord asserts the fact, 
declared in the words of the text, that every unbeliever is con- 
demned already, that is, is under a sentence of eternal death. 

Before I come directly to the point, I wish to premise that 
the words of my text are a part of that remarkable discourse 
which our blessed Lord held with Nicodemus. The inquiry 
of the Jewish Rabbi was prompted by an anxious concern 
for the welfare of his soul. Though a member of the Jewish 



270 A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS, 

Sanhedrim, and from what we learn of him in holy writ, a 
worthy member of the Old Testament Church, yet the fame 
of our Saviour's miracles, and the nature of his doctrine, led 
him to such a consideration of all that Moses and the prophets- 
had spoken, that he saw there was yet in reserve a fulfilment 
of the mercy promised to the fathers, which embraced still 
clearer discoveries of that great purpose of God, which was 
obscurely shadowed out in the sacrifices and expiations of 
the ceremonial law. The fulness of time, too, was come, in 
which He who was the desire of all nations should be mani- 
fested to Israel. From all these circumstances he was moved, 
I doubt not, by the Spirit of God, to desire that interview 
with Jesus of Xazareth which St. John has recorded, from 
which he received the great outline of the gospel, and from 
which we derive, in express words, those fundamental doc- 
trines which, however they mav be contained in and inferred 
from other passages of the Scriptures, yet had this part of 
the gospel never come down to us, would have been, more 
than they now are, the objects of dispute and contention in 
the Christian world. Hardly, my hearers, do we believe 
what God hath spoken to us by his Son, of the truth of which 
we have an internal witness — eagerly do we catch at any 
supposed ambiguity in the great rule of our religious duties, 
and most willingly would we pare down the law of righteous- 
ness to our sinful standard, What, then, would have been 
our darkness had these first principles been wrapt up in that 
mystery which would have opened to the most persevering 
and anxious research, and to that alone, the foundation of 
our hope, the rule of our conduct. Mark here, my brethren, 
the wisdom and prudence of Him, who, seeing from the be- 
ginning to the end, and knowing what is in man, hath so di- 
rected the revelation of his will that he that runs may read, 
that he that hears may understand, that he that understands 
may apply — so that he that thus hath may have more abun- 
dance, while he that thus hath not shall be deprived of that 
which he seemeth to have, that every mouth may be stopped 
before God, and our final condemnation proceed from our 
own lips. u O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom 
and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, 
and his ways past finding out." 



A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 

These reflections, my hearers, are drawn from me, not only 
from the circumstances attending the words which make the 
subject matter of my discourse, but because they strike at 
the root of that carelessness and neglect of the Scriptures 
which is the true cause of the unbelief and impiety which 
abound among us, at that presumptuous enlargement and 
contraction of God's true and faithful word, which shall make 
it fit our depraved standard, and give countenance to a hope 
which is like the spider's web or the chaff which the wind 
scattereth abroad upon the face of the earth. 

But, my brethren and hearers, this vain and delusive, un- 
founded and inconsiderate hope, in the sweeping exercise of 
which so many take shelter while they are perfect strangers 
to the only foundation, is rooted out by the words of my 
text, which contain a doctrine of all others the most abhor- 
rent to the nominal superficial believer in the Christian reli- 
gion. They affirm, in terms which admit of no subterfuge 
or qualification, the fallen, ruined condition of the human 
race — the total separation from God, and absolute condem- 
nation to death, temporal and eternal, which original sin 
drew upon Adam and all his posterity, and as a clear conse- 
quence, the utter incapacity of man to retrieve himself from 
this body of death' — the corruption of all his faculties — the 
destruction of all his vain and self-righteous hopes. This is 
the fact which our Lord affirms so strongly in the words of 
my text; and the ground or reason on which the assertion is 
made, is this: — 

When it pleased God to call into existence a race of be- 
ings, made only a little lower than the angels, and endued 
with all the faculties correspondent to their place in the scale 
of creation, he placed them under the direction of a law, 
pure, holy, and perfect, a transcript of the divine perfec- 
tions. In obedience to this law for a season — (according to 
the universal impressions of all divines, though no where in 
the word of God so far as I know it, is the limit defined; ne- 
vertheless, from the circumstances it is fairly inferred) — in 
obedience to this law for a season, I say, a deathless life and 
immortal glory were attainable, while the awful alternative 
of endless death and eternal misery were fairly threatened 
as the consequence of disobedience. "This do, and thou shalt 



272 A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 

live" — this transgress, and thou shalt die, was the fair and 
declared condition upon which man, thoroughly furnished 
for his trial, stood for immortality. But he transgressed and 
fell, he disobeyed and incurred the curse — "In the day thou 
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Die be did, my breth- 
ren, to all spiritual and heavenly purposes; the image of God 
in his soul was extinguished, the empire of death over his 
body was established, and an impassable barrier between 
heaven and earth was built up by human sin, which no hu- 
man righteousness could take away. But he fell not alone — 
the curse of the law was not exhausted on the transgressor, 
nor the appetite of death satisfied with one sacrifice — with 
him his posterity were subjected to all the penalties conse- 
quent on his sin. "For as by one man sin entered into the 
world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, in 
that all have sinned." But let no man say there is unright- 
eousness with God, in thus "visiting the sins of the father upon 
the children." For, as we who are his posterity would have 
shared all the advantages of his triumph had he stood, the 
justice of God stands clear of all imputation in our suffering 
under the consequences of his disgrace, even though we have 
"not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." 

Such, my hearers, is the ground or reason of that univer- 
sal condemnation asserted in the text. For disobedience to 
this pure and holy law, in the progenitor and representative 
of the human race, the sentence of the law hath gone forth 
against all mankind; and they are unalterably bound by the 
infinite truth, purity, holiness, and justice of Almighty God, 
to the performance or the penalty. This is the true state of 
every soul born into this present evil world. The rigorous 
demands of the law must be complied with, the offended 
justice of God must be satisfied, while our fallen condition 
has rendered either impossible. Shut up and concluded un- 
der sin, independent of our own personal transgressions 
against God, well may we join the apostle Paul, in his deep 
experience of the boundless extent of our depravity and ruin, 
and exclaim with him, O wretched creatures that we are! 
who shall deliver us from the body of this death? Delivered 
we must be, my hearers, or perish eternally; and, thanks be 
to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ this deliverance is 
freely offered in the gospel to every child of Adam. 



A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 273 

II. Of the method of this deliverance I am now, in the 
second place, to speak. 

It is a remark I have somewhere met with, that man's ex- 
tremity is God's opportunity. And while this is verified in 
the constant experience of his providence, it is most power- 
fully brought home to the heart in the contemplation of the 
riches of his grace, in the redemption of the world by his only 
begotten Son. 

Sunk in all the misery and helplessness of sin; justly cast 
off from the favor of God; pursued by the curse of the broken 
law; exposed to the vengeance which infinite justice demand- 
ed, whither could the fallen sinner flee? Heaven was barred 
against him; the earth was cursed for his sake; hell was moved 
from beneath to receive him; no mercy could be found in the 
law itself; future obedience, had it been possible, could avail 
nothing to cancel the debt already contracted — "Thus, by the 
offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condem- 
nation." In this extremity, God, who is rich in mercy, had 
compassion on the work of his hands, and, by his'only be- 
gotten Son, provided for our recovery. To remove the con- 
demnation under which we labored, consistent with the 
dignity and holiness of Jehovah, no other mode remained, 
than by rendering to offended justice the satisfaction required 
by the broken law, and to the law itself, the obedience de- 
manded by the purity and holiness of its precepts. This was 
the price to be paid for our ransom — the purchase of that 
mercy, which, by the gospel, is freely offered to us. As we 
fell in a representative, so in a representative are we saved. 
The Lord Jesus, by the will of God, became the representa- 
tive of fallen man, undertook in our stead to fulfil the de- 
mands of the law, and atone for our sins. Hence the deep 
mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God, that, in the 
very truth of that nature in which it was broken, the right- 
eousness of the law might be fulfilled. That he who, as God, 
could not suffer, might, in the pain and agony of the cross, 
taste death for every man, and expiate the guilt of human 
sin. By this great and gracious undertaking of our blessed 
Lord, the relation in which man stood to his Creator was 
changed. By the personal obedience of Jesus as our repre- 
sentative, the law was fulfilled and honored. By the personal 



274 A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 

sufferings of the Son of God, in our stead, full satisfaction 
was made to the Divine justice, and a door of mercy opened, 
so that God could be* "just, and the justifier of him that be- 
lieved in Jesus." The demands of the law being fully satis- 
fied u by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all 
men to justification of life." This great, glorious, and gra- 
cious undertaking, my brethren, is the foundation of the gos- 
pel; and the gospel itself is a communication from heaven, 
declaring the glad tidings to sinful mortals, for the obedience 
of faith; that is, that they might believe, obey, and be saved. 
In this message of grace, God reveals himself, by his Son, 
reconciled to his creatures; and, in the freeness and fulness 
of his mercy, discharges them from the law or covenant of 
works, and proposes a new and more gracious covenant, ac- 
cording to which, the reward of eternal life is promised to 
the renewed obedience of penitent sinners, through faith 
which is in Christ Jesus. "Him hath God exalted a prince 
and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission 
of sins.',' To him is committed the management and direc- 
tion of that Church which he bought with his own blood; in 
him is laid up for us sinners, fulness of grace to sanctify and 
save; and to him is transferred and made over, the right to 
judge his people, to acquit and condemn them, according to 
the merciful and gracious terms of the gospel. So that every 
way, "there is none other name under heaven given among 
men, whereby we must be saved," save only "the name of 
Jesus Christ of Nazareth." 

Thus we see, my brethren, the wonderful method which 
the wisdom of God hath provided and appointed for our de- 
liverance from the curse of the law, to remove the condem- 
nation which sin had brought upon the world, and make 
room for the exercise of mercy; and this in a way consistent 
with all his perfections — so that "mercy and truth are met 
together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other." 
And thus we see the ground of the grand doctrine of our re- 
ligion, salvation by grace through faith, not of works, lest 
any man should boast. We were gone for ever, my hearers, 
every way lost and undone, condemned by the righteous 
judgment of God, and delivered over to the awful conse- 
quences of sin and rebellion. 



A WARNING TQ UNBELIEVERS. 275 

To relieve or deliver from this condition, there was no help 
in man — no atonement in his power to make. Therefore, if 
saved at all, it must be by an act of grace or favor on the 
part of God; and the method, together with the means, must 
be altogether of his appointment. But of what use to us if 
not made known? "How shall we call on Eim in whom we 
have not believed, and how shall we believe on Him of whom 
we have not heard, and how shall we hear without a preach- 
er," without a revelation from God? Ponder these things, ye 
who carelessly neglect the word of God and the means of 
grace. Commune with your own hearts, and see what you 
can do, or what you can hope for, without this help -from 
heaven; and be no longer faithless but believing — no longer 
reject the counsel of God against your own souls, but submit 
yourselves to the righteousness of God, which, by the gospel, 
is now manifested without the law, even that righteousness 
which is by faith of Jesus Christ. "For he that believeth 
not is condemned already." 

I come now, in the 

III. Third place, to show you what is meant by believing 
in Christ. . 

And, first, it is to believe all that God has revealed to us 
in the Scriptures — a hearty, humble assent to the truth of our 
own condition as therein made known to us. This it is which 
must prepare the way for our recovery from the power of sin 
and Satan, and turn our views to God; for nothing but a 
knowledge of our disease can bring us to seek a remedy 
against it. All that we can perceive with our outward senses 
speaks to us of a Power supreme and invisible, by whom all 
things are created and upheld, and "in whom we live, and 
move, and have our being." Our relation to that Being, and 
the purpose we are to answer in the infinite scale of his works, 
must ever be a subject of anxious thought and inquiry to a 
reasonable creature. But whence shall we derive this know- 
ledge unless from the source of all wisdom, and goodness, and 
truth? "Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for 
gold where they find it." Natural things, those which are 
outward and the objects of our senses, we are capable, in 
some good degree, of comprehending; but all beyond is dark- 
ness, doubt, and conjecture. "Where, then, shall wisdom be 



276 A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 

found, and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth 
not the price thereof, neither is it found in the land of the 
living." Whence, then, but by revelation can we compass it? 
For '"God alone nnderstandeth the way thereof, and knoweth 
the place thereof." To him, then, alone must we look, and 
from him alone can we receive what is so needful to our pre- 
sent comfort, so encouraging to our future hopes. For all 
that our internal senses, the active power of our souls in the 
exercise of our rational faculties, can bring us to, is, the de- 
plorable darkness and ignorance under which we labor re- 
specting spiritual. things, so that the word which God hath 
revealed to us by his Son is no less the subject matter of faith 
than the object of desire to every considerate, well disposed 
mind. Hence we see, my hearers, that neglect or rejection 
of revelation is a bar to all progress or advancement in the 
way of salvation, inasmuch as it is equally a contempt of our 
own wants and of God's mercy — of the reason of our own 
minds and of the truth as it is in Jesus. And hence it is, 
that so many are delivered over to strong delusion, that they 
should believe a lie, in some invention of man or deceit of 
the devil, to the ruin of their souls— "Who believed not the 
truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." O that those 
who are brave enough thus to risk their immortal souls in 
neglecting this great salvation, would but consider their folly 
in thinking themselves wiser than God, and better able to 
understand his will and purpose, in the salvation of sinners, 
than that "Word which was made flesh, and dwelt among us, 
and hath plainly showed unto us the way of salvation. 

Secondly, it is so to believe the testimony God hath given of 
his Son in the Scriptures of truth, as to rely on him for life 
and salvation. This includes in it, my brethren, a reception 
of Jesus as the light and life of men — as the word and wis- 
dom of God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace 
and truth — the great atonement for our lives in the sacrifice 
of the cross — the assurance of our hope in the triumph of his 
resurrection — the dependence of his people for every supply 
of spiritual grace — the only Mediator between God and man 
— the great Intercessor through whom the infirmity of our 
prayers and the unworthiness of our best services find ac- 
ceptance with God — the Eevealer of his will to 113 creatures 



A WAENING TO UNBELIEVERS. 277 

— Lord of all things — Judge of all men — God manifest in 
the flesh to destroy the works of the devil. With these com- 
manding claims on our attention, the gospel invites us to 
come to him — to receive him as the Lord odr Righteousness, 
and to commit our souls, bodies, and spirits, to his love, 
faithfulness, and power, for eternal life. It includes, also, a 
renunciation of all merit or deserving on our part, from any 
righteousness of our own; all proud, lofty endeavor of our- 
selves to please God, and by our works to purchase salvation. 
This is the hard saying which few are able to hear — this is 
the great stumbling block to. the pride of our fallen nature; 
but it is the very entrance to salvation by grace through faith. 
For if righteousness come by the law — if we as fallen crea- 
tures can answer the demands of the law, then is Christ dead 
in vain. By thus going about to establish our own righteous- 
ness, we rebel against that righteousness of God's appoint- 
ment which is by faith of Jesus Christ. "For he is the end 
of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth and 
speaketh on this wise." That "if thou shalt confess with thy 
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that 
God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." 

Lastly, it is heartily and steadily to obey the commands of 
Christ delivered to us in the gospel. 

This is the crown of the whole, the only evidence we can 
have that we possess the faith of God's elect, the saving faith 
of the gospel, which unites us to our living Head as branches 
to the vine, and derives from him that living power which 
overcomes the world; that spiritual help by which holiness 
is begun, maintained, and perfected in the present life, ma- 
king us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Any 
other notion of faith, my hearers, is false and unscriptural — 
any other definition of it than as a principle of love and obe- 
dience, is sure to cast those who entertain it into all the dan- 
ger and difficulty of antinomian delusion or Pharisaical pre- 
sumption. Bare abstract believing can save no man. "It 
is dead," says St. James, "being alone;" which is fully 
confirmed by John the Baptist's declaration — "He that be- 
lieveth on the Son hath everlasting life, but he that believeth 
not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth 
on him;" that is, "he is condemned already, because he hath 



278 A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 

not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God," 
bo as to keep bis commandments. 

It remains to apply what has been said. 

It appears, then, my hearers, that we stand in the situation 
of condemned criminals reprieved by the mercy of the judge; 
that the present life is to determine whether the original sen- 
tence shall be executed upon us or not. This in itself is 
more than sufficient to stir up every exertion we are capable 
of, to escape the condemnation we labor under. But when, 
in addition to this, we consider that the compassion of God 
and love of Christ hath provided, not only for our escape 
from a most just sentence, but for our attainment of the 
original glory and blessedness from which sin had shut us 
out, what limit should there be to the grateful love with 
which we should hear and receive the glad tidings of mercy 
revealed in the gospel — to that willing obedience we should 
render to what is required of us? 

Let me ask you, then — and O that God would help you to 
the true answer — are you believers or not in the name of the 
only begotten Son of God? On the answer you can make to 
this important question depends all that can be dear to you 
in time and in eternity. Therefore, let me exhort you, by 
the worth of four immortal souls, not to trifle with this 
solemn inquiry. Many, it is to be feared, have built up for 
themselves some unhallowed hope in which they speak peace 
to themselves while there is no peace. Careless of God's 
revealed word, ignorant of the true condition of human na- 
ture, and of the terms of salvation through faith in a cruci- 
fied Saviour, they run, blinded by their own folly and pre- 
sumption, headlong to destruction. To such, let the solemn 
warning of my text be a word in season this day. Against 
the condemnation therein proclaimed there is but one refuge, 
in a hearty submission to God's appointed method of deliver- 
ance by faith in that Jesus who died, the just for the unjust, 
that he might bring us to God. Let those who consent in gen- 
eral to the truth of revelation, but go no deeper into it than to 
skim from the surface a vague and indeterminate trust in 
God's mercy, learn from hence, that that mercy has a rule, 
and that no otherwise can it be applied to their souls than 
by a real, living, and effectual reception of the truth, to the 
renewal and sanctification of the life. 



A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS. 279 

To those who trust in the morality of their lives— who flatter 
themselves that they do no harm — that they are, upon the 
whole, better than others, and proudly trust in. their own 
righteousness, renouncing it only in words — let the words of 
my text give a juster view of themselves, and show them 
that in the Lokd Jesus only have we righteousness and 
strength. That until we are interested in him by the faith of 
the operation of God, we are condemned and helpless aliens 
from God, and without a hope of his mercy. And let the 
whole tribe of careless, thoughtless, prayerless, world-hunting, 
pleasure-loving creatures, see here their true condition. Con- 
demned already, and wasting the precious moments of their 
reprieve in "treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath." 
O that God would now be pleased to touch your hearts, to 
show you your danger, and to sanctify his true and faithful 
word to awaken you from the sleep of death, before everlast- 
ing ruin seize upon your souls. Amen. 



SERMON XXIV. 

THE DANGER OF FORFEITING THE HEAVENLY REST. 

Hebrews iv. 1. 

Let us, therefore, fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his 
Test, any of you should seem to come short of it. 

"Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written 
for onr learning," says the apostle; the volume of inspiration, 
therefore, contains all that is wanted by us for "instruction 
in righteousness." And in this collection of the experience 
of the people of God in past ages, we see as in a glass, my 
brethren, the contest of our fallen nature with divine grace, 
and are admonished, both by the failure and success of those 
who have gone before us, to take heed to ourselves, and to 
increase our "diligence," in making "our calling and election 
sure." But more particularly, in the dealings of God with 
the children of Israel, his chosen people, is the Christian 
Church admonished to take heed, lest there be in any of its 
members "an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the 
living God," either by perverting the doctrines or by depart- 
ing from the precepts of the gospel. For, says the same 
apostle, "all these things happened unto them for ensamples; 
and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the 
ends of the world are come." 

Very frequent, therefore, are the allusions made in the New 
Testament to the fate and fortunes of the Jewish people; and 
in this epistle, addressed expressly to persons of that nation, 
who had embraced Christianity, does their countryman, St. 
Paul, "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" and "an Apostle of Jesus 
Christ," point out the close connexion of the two dispensa- 
tions, and establish the superior dignity and importance of 
the gospel, both in its helps and in its promises* In the 
chapter immediately preceding that from which my text is 
taken, having drawn a comparison between the promises 
enade through Moses to the Israelites, as the peculiar people 
{Vol, a,— *19.] 



232 THE DAGGER OF FOEFEITIKG 

of God, of a temporal inheritance, and of a peaceful and hon- 
orable rest in the land of Canaan, on condition of their obe- 
dience to the divine commands; and the assurances which 
Cbkist gives in the gospel, to his faithful followers, of an 
eternal inheritance and glorious rest in the heavenly Canaan; 
— and having shown that the Israelites, by their unbelief and 
rebellion against God, had forfeited the promised rest, and 
were condemned to wander as outcasts, and to die in the 
wilderness; he draws from this very noted circumstance in 
the history of that people, not only here, but in many other 
passages of his writings, a warning to Christians, lest they 
alsQj "after the same example of unbelief," should forfeit the 
heavenly rest and inheritance promised to them as the chil- 
dren of God, by faith in Cueist Jesus. Hence the great im- 
portance of the exhortation in my text. Let us Christians, 
also, fear, lest we forfeit the high privileges and unspeakable 
blessings promised through our Lord Jesus Cueist, by a like 
disobedience and rebellion against the Captain of our salvation. 
God has indeed called us, my brethren and hearers, to a 
glorious hope of everlasting life and happiness, through our 
blessed Redeemer, He has given us all reasonable certainty 
and assurance, that we shall in due time be made partakers 
of it; but there are conditions required on our part, both to 
qualify us for and to entitle us to this happiness. And if, as 
did the Israelites, we fail to fulfil them, we shall, like them, 
find our expectations cut off, and a far sorer punishment in- 
curred, in proportion as the high discoveries of the gospel 
exceed the shadows of the legal dispensation. 

That we may come short of it, as they did, is not only pos- 
sible, but greatly to be feared, for two reasons. One is, that 
we are men of like passions with those who have gone before 
us — of the same fallen nature,, and exposed to the same temp- 
tations. The other is, that failure, as well as success, is in- 
separable from a state of trial, such as the present life. 

That we may succeed, is not only possible, but the highest 
assurance is given, that success is attainable if we strive for 
it. First, from the invitations of the gospel. For God can- 
not mock and delude his creatures with offers of an impossi- 
ble attainment. And secondly, from the effectual provision 
made therefor, by the operation and assistance of divine grace. 



THE HEAVENLY EEST. 2S3 

That God lias left us "a promise of entering into his rest," 
and graciously provided the means whereby it may be at- 
tained, is the only ground on which exertion and endeavor 
can be put forth by rational beings, under a state of proba- 
tion. Break in upon this principle by any modification of 
the doctrines of the gospel, and you at once render religion, 
or the love and service of God with accountability, impossi- 
ble to man, as a -moral being. Whatever our blessed Saviour 
did or suffered whilst he was upon earth, or has commanded 
us to do or to suffer after his example; all the precepts, all 
the promises, all the threatenings, all the discoveries of the 
gospel, are but one continued argument to convince men of 
this truth, and to engage them to act upon it. If there be no 
such thing as another life after this, in which we shall receive 
the everlasting reward of faith and obedience, or suffer the 
eternal punishment of sin and unbelief, then the whole busi- 
ness of religion is an illusion. "Let us eat and drink, for to- 
morrow we die." But if there be another life, then does re- 
ligion stand forth as the one thing needful, and call upon all 
to whom the knowledge of this great salvation is vouchsafed, 
to ask themselves, "What shall the end be of those who know 
not God, and obey not the gospel of our Loud Jesus Chkist?" 
"Let us, therefore, fear, lest a promise being left us of enter- 
ing into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." 

In discoursing on these words, I shall, in the 

First place, endeavor to show you the greatness and the 
certainty of the reward promised hereafter to the righteous. 

Secondly, what good reason the apostle had to exhort 
Christians to fear lest they should forfeit it. 

Thirdly, I shall conclude with an application of the sub- 
ject. 

I. First, I am to show the greatness and the certainty of 
the reward promised hereafter to the righteous. 

This, though a subject never to be fully apprehended by 
us until we come to the enjoyment of it, is, nevertheless, very 
necessary and profitable to be frequently in our thoughts, 
any brethren, in order to animate and encourage us to "hold 
fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the^md." 
The person who seldom meditates upon heaven, and upon 
the reward laid up for the righteous, will soon cease to strive 



28i THE DANGER OF FORFEITING 

for the crown of glory, and soon be taken captive by the 
world and its delights. The affections cannot long remain 
unoccupied, and if no pains are taken to direct them to better 
things, they will fix themselves according to the corrupt and 
perverted bias which sin has produced in all our inclinations. 
It is not, indeed, for me to speak as with knowledge of those 
excellent and glorious things which are, as yet, the objects 
not of sense but of faith. Even St. Paul himself, though 
caught up into paradise, and admitted to the nearest contem- 
plation of them — to what no mortal man but himself ever 
enjoyed — yet all that- inspiration enabled him to say on this 
unutterable subject was, to declare, that "eye had not seen, 
nor ear heard, neither had it entered into the heart of man 
to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them 
that love him." But notwithstanding this is so, yet — as in 
speaking of God himself, though we cannot fully comprehend 
the divine nature, yet by putting together the highest ideas 
we can form of his infinite perfections as revealed to us in 
the Scriptures, we can raise in our souls some suitable though 
faint apprehensions of the glory and excellency of the divine 
character — so here also, it has pleased our good and gracious 
God to give us such general descriptions of the everlasting- 
rest as nuiv suffice to warm our hearts with lonffiner desires 
for it, and to quicken our endeavors to diligence and perse- 
verence in the attainment of it. And this he has done, as 
most suitable to our clouded and limited faculties, chiefly by 
the contrast of our present condition. 

Ik-re we live in a vale of misery surrounded by sin and 
sorrow, and only measuring the good by its exemption from 
evil. From the cradle to the grave, life is one unceasing 
effort to fence off the miseries which our own sinful propen- 
sities biang upon us, or which are occasioned by the wicked- 
ness of others, while disease and suffering in ourselves or in 
those nearest to our affections break in upon our partial en- 
joyments, and death, either near at hand or in the distance, 
marks the sum of earthly good with such a transitory charac- 
ter as thoughtlessness alone can esteem But in heaven, as 
the word of God teaches us, there will be a perfect deliver- 
ance from all trouble. No pains or diseases, no weakness or 
infirmjty, shall affect our incorruptible bodies; no lusts or 



THE HEAVENLY REST. 285 

passions, no irregular or inordinate desires, shall discompose 
our souls. For sin, the cause of all our present misery, shall 
be shut out for ever from the abodes of the righteous, and 
with it whatever can possibly .defeat, or even interrupt, the 
pure and unmixed felicity which flows from the presence of 
God. 

Here we live, my brethren, in a continual warfare with 
our spiritual enemies. Temptations surround and assault us. 
on every side; "the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the 
spirit against the flesh," so that it is a continual struggle be- 
tween our desires and our duty. But heaven is a place as 
innocent as it is glorious. There no temptation will draw us 
from our duty, or render it painful in the performance, but 
it will be the eager bent and desire of our souls to perform 
the pure and perfect will of God. There it will be not only 
our employment but our delight, unceasingly to adore and 
worship the infinite perfections of our God and Saviour, con- 
tinually manifested to our ravished view — to praise and mag- 
nify his hoi} 7 name for the redemption of our souls from ev- 
erlasting death, and fur conferring upon us such a state of 
happiness and glory. 

Here we live in the continual expectation, that death will 
soon, and we know not how soon, put an end to the enjoy- 
ments this world can bestow. But in heaven no such ap- 
prehension shall be known. In the heavenly rest there shall 
be no more death, no change or decay, no end or abatement 
of bliss for ever and ever. 

Oh! what heartfelt thanksgivings to God and the Lamb, 
what loud hosannas of praise, will spring from the lips of the 
redeemed, when faith shall be lost in sight, and hope swal- 
lowed up in enjoyment; when eye to eye, and face to face, 
my brethren, we behold that Jesus who laid down his life for 
our souls, and bought with his own most precious blood this 
rich inheritance of endless glory for us, lost and ruined sin- 
ners! Oh! what joy and gladness when long separated friends 
meet to part no more — when the remembrance of past sor- 
rows will increase the sense of present bliss, and inflame 
every heart and inspire every tongue to ascribe "to Him 
that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, blessing, and 
glory, and honor, and power for ever!" Oh! what a glorious 



286 THE DANGER OF FORFEITING 

meeting, my dear brethren, when we come "to the heavenly 
Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the 
general assembly and church of the first-born which are 
written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the 
spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator 
of the new covenant" — when from the church militant we 
become members of the church triumphant, and, receiving 
the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls, find all 
that we now "see as through a glass darkly," realized, and 
exceeding the utmost stretch of imagination. Who is not 
athirst for such pure, and glorious, and lasting enjoyments? 
Who is not willing to exchange the fleeting, unsatisfying 
vanities of the world fur the rest that remaineth to the peo- 
ple of God? O ye deluded, sin-deceived souls, who, for a 
portion in this life, barter away your birthright; who, for the 
perishing riches, honors, and pleasures of the world, make 
light of the unsearchable riches of Christ; awake, and con- 
sider your ways — ask yourselves about eternity, about death 
and judgment, about heaven and hell — inquire what your 
present pursuits are doing for your souls, and where you 
would take your rest were God this night to require them of 
you — think of the worm that never dies, of the fire that never 
shall be quenched. Contrast these with the fulness of joy 
which the presence of God sheds over the mansions of rest 
and blessedness, and ask your souls what will it profit to gain 
this world and all it has to bestow, if in exchange heaven 
must be surrendered? 

And let those who, by their Christian profession, say plain- 
ly that they seek a better country, treasure up in their hearts 
the greatness and the certainty of their reward, as the great 
preservative against coming short of it. "Set your affections 
on things above," my brethren, and let the frequent contem- 
plation strengthen you to put down those worldly lusts which 
war against the soul, and animate you to watch and pray, to 
wrestle and strive, to do, and even to suffer, according to the 
will of God, that you may reap a full reward. Let not the 
baubles of the world despoil you of your heavenly crown. 

But a little while, and He that shall come, will come to 
gather you to himself. But a little while, and the strife and 
turmoil of this sinful world will be over, and rest and peace, 



THE HEAVENLY REST, 28T 

impose and safety, endless, undisturbed, and increasing, be 
jour rich reward. This is the rest, however faintly I have 
described it, of which my text speaks, which is provided for 
the people of God, and of which we shall be made partakers 
if we live here answerably to such glorious expectations. But 
it may be forfeited, my text tells us. In various ways we 
may come short of it, and this the apostle urges as a ground 
of caution to Christians. "Let us, therefore, fear, lest a pro- 
mise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should 
seem to come short of it." I will, therefore, 

II. Secondly, endeavor to show, what good reason the apos- 
tle had to exhort Christians to fear, lest they should forfeit it. 

If our first parents, in the integrity of their moral powers, 
declined from God, and, by yielding to temptation, forfeited 
the happy condition in which they were placed by their Cre- 
ator, what have not we, their corrupt and sinful progeny, 
with broken powers and perverted wills, to fear — lest we also 
fail, in the trial granted us by the divine compassion, to re- 
gain the inheritance forfeited by sin — lest we also abuse the 
grace given us in our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, and come 
short of our high calling of God in him! 

If the Israelites, under a dispensation of religion which 
presented its proofs and its sanctions to their senses, gave 
way to unbelief — if the miraculous food and drink which fol- 
lowed them in all their wanderings ia the wilderness, and 
hourly reminded them of that God, whose voice they heard 
and whose presence was manifested in the mount that burned 
with fire, proved unequal to restrain the corrupt propensities 
of a sinful nature in them, with good reason is the Christian, 
under a dispensation whose sanctions are discerned by faith 
only, exhorted "to work out his salvation with fear and trem- 
bling," and to be diligent and watchful, lest through care- 
lessness or neglect, through love of the world, or the preva- 
lence of any other corruption, he forfeit the heavenly rest. 

If the promises of God were absolute and unconditional, 
and religious attainment independent on any exertions of our 
own, all fear of the event would be useless, and all exhorta- 
tion to caution and watchfulness would be superfluous. But 
when this is not the case, when the whole tenor of Scripture 
as well as the reason of the thing demonstrates, that the pro- 



288 THE DANGER OF FORFEITING 

mises of God to his people are all conditional, that there ar& 
duties to be performed on their part in order to obtain the 
reward promised on God's part, they cannot be too frequently 
or too earnestly exhorted to bear continually in mind, that 
'•we are made partakers of Christ if we hold fast the begin- 
ning of our confidence steadfast unto the end" — that "he that 
endureth to the end the same shall be saved," and that God 
declares, "if any man draw back, my soul shall have no plea- 
sure in him." 

God has plainly set before us the terms of our salvation — 
what we are to believe, and what we are to do, if we hope to 
attain it. Should not we, therefore, my hearers, who are bora 
and raised under the light and privileges of the gospel, be 
very careful not to come short of the high reward therein 
offered us, by suffering an}' present interests or temptations- 
to draw us aside from our duty? Yet we see thousands in 
this Christian land acting as carelessly respecting eternity as 
if its happy attainment depended on the neglect of religious 
duty. Surely, then, there is not only good but great reason 
to exhort such persons to consider, how vain the hope must 
be of the favor of God and eternal life, if they persist in a 
course of sin and disregard of the gospel. No one can pos- 
sibly have any pretensions to sincerity who professes to be- 
lieve the gospel, and yet openly neglects the appointments 
of religion. There is something in the very sound of an 
eternal reward or punishment — believed in — that forbids the 
desperate risk; and yet there are multitudes who, because 
they are friendly to religion as it is called, flatter themselves 
with the hope of acceptance through the merits of the Saviour, 
and expect to gain the eternal reward without the self-denials 
and surrenders of religion. Now what is to withstand this 
delusion but the exhortations derived from the revealed 
danger, that we may "fail of the grace of God," that we must 
sow if we expect to reap, that we must labor and strive if we 
would gain a crown of life, and that we must openly confess- 
Chrirt before the world if we hope to be owned by him be- 
fore his Father and the holy angels in the great day of account. 
If men can be saved without the sacraments of religion, 
where opportunity is had for their reception, it would be very 
difficult to account for their being so very solemnly enacted, 



THE HEAVENLY BEST. 289 

and so very reverently esteemed, and profitably used, by all 
truly pious persons. Yet there are multitudes of these friends 
to religion, who come to their death-bed with their baptismal 
vows broken, their repentance unacknowledged, and their 
faith un professed over the broken body and shed blood of 
Jesus Cheist, "evidently set forth crucified" among or before 
them, in the Holy Communion, as the appointed memorial 
of his death. And is there no danger that such should come 
short of the rest he hath purchased for them? no good reason 
why such should be warned and exhorted, lest they be found 
in the number to whom Cheist will say, "I never knew you." 
Alas! my dear hearers, trifle not thus with your souls; waste 
not your day of grace in vain and unfounded expectations, 
but learn to fear that you may fail, that thus you may be 
stirred up to enter in at the strait gate, and to walk in the 
narrow way, which leadeth unto life. And even among pro- 
fessors of religion — among those who confess the Loed Jesus 
Cheist before men, as their only hope of the heavenly rest, 
is it needful and profitable to remind them that if they "would 
enter into life, they must keep the commandments," they 
must "stir up the gift of God that is in them," and return 
their Loed's goods — his heavenky grace, and providential 
condition in the world — with increase, otherwise they will 
come short of their high calling, and take their portion with, 
the unprofitable servant. My dear brethren, the world is 
against you, your own hearts are against you, the enemy of 
God and man is against yon! Is there not, then, good reason 
to fear these potent adversaries so as to increase your caution 
and watchfulness, lest they betray you in some snare and en- 
tangle you in their deceits, and thus prevail against your 
Lope, by blinding you against the danger of coming short of 
it? St. Paul thought it very necessary to give this caution, 
even to primitive Christians; and experience must surely 
teach us, that it is yet "a word in season." And it will be a 
word in season to all who so learn from it to distrust them- 
selves, as to cleave closer and closer to their great and ef- 
fectual defence in the Loed Jescs Cheist; and in obedience 
to his holy commandments, and blessed example, so "pass 
the time of their sojourning here in fear," as to increase their 
diligence and earnestness, "that when their Loed cometh he 



290 THE DANGER OF FORFEITING 

niay find them ready, with their loins girded about and their 
lights burning." 

Thus have I showed you, my brethren and hearers, what 
good reason the apostle had to exhort Christians to fear, lest 
they should forfeit the heavenly rest. And the application I 
wish to make of what has been said, is, to increase the care 
and diligence of professors of religion, in working out their 
eternal salvation; to strengthen and encourage the feeble and 
the timid to stay themselves upon the living Gor>; and to 
awaken the careless of every description, from the dreadful 
delusion of meeting with unasked mercy, and of obtaining 
unsought "salvation. 

My professing brethren, we stand on trial, from first to last, 
as believers in Christ; and can no otherwise secure the crown 
of life and glory, than by "giving all diligence to make our 
calling and election sure." As accountable beings we have 
each of us his own part to perform, his particular talent to 
improve. As fallen, sinful creatures, our sufficiency for all 
spiritual attainment is of God, through our Lord Jesus 
Christ. "We are saved by grace." And because of this 
sufficiency conferred upon all mankind, it is, that we are 
capable of religion, and shall be rewarded or punished ever- 
lastingly, according to our conduct in the present life. On 
this, there is no discretion to any. "He that believeth not is 
condemned already," and he that believeth shall be judged 
by the word spoken unto him in the gospel. As believers, 
the word of God is your only standard; by that you must 
measure your hope, and try the foundation on which it is 
built; by that you must examine your life, and determine its 
conformity to the divine pattern in the man Christ Jesus. 
Short of this, your hope cannot be such as will stand the trial 
of the great day. 

Now, in this standard, the prize and the forfeit are plainly 
set before you; the road you have to travel clearly marked 
out; the dangers and the difficulties you have to encounter 
are distinctly set forth; the help you may look for is openly 
proclaimed; and to quicken your diligence, God hath warned 
you that such is the woful corruption of your nature, that you 
may, nevertheless, miss "the prize of your high calling," and 
"come short" of the heavenly "rest." What becomes us, 



THE HEAVENLY KEST. 



291 



then, my brethren, under such circumstances, but that fear, 
and care, and jealousy of ourselves, which shall produce a 
more unreserved surrender of heart and life to the power and 
grace of our ever merciful Redeemer? "Without Him we 
can do nothing," but in his name and strength "all things are 
possible" to the believer. Keep continually before you, there- 
fore, your reward and your duty, your danger and your help, 
and, with St. Paul, do this one thing — "Forgetting the things 
that are behind, and reaching forth unto the things that are 
before, press toward the mark; counting all things but loss, 
that you may win Chkist, and be found in him," and receive 
the joyful salutation of "well done good and faithful servant, 
enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 

And let the feeble and the timid believer, who is conscious 
of the power of his corruptions, derive courage to contend 
against them, from the promises of God. "He hath laid help" 
for you, my brethren, "on one who is mighty" and able to 
save; upon one who will not break the bruised reed nor 
quench the smoking flax; who laid down his life for your 
souls, that, by this proof of unbounded love, he might draw 
all men to God. 

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up 
for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all 
things. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and 
the feeble knees; being persuaded of this one thing, that he 
who hath begun a good work in you will carry it on unto the 
day of Christ." 

A knowledge of your weakness, my brethren, is the best 
security against presumption, and the strongest argument for 
watchfulness and increased earnestness in prayer. Let dis- 
trust of yourselves, then, bring you nearer to God for grace 
to help in time of need; and his strength shall be made per- 
fect in your weakness, and the work of faith be fulfilled with 
power. 

Lastly, let the fear here spoken of, from the awful possi- 
bility, yea, from the plain and obvious danger, that men may 
"receive the grace of God in vain," and even Christians, 
God's peculiar people, "come short" of the reward promised 
to faith and obedience, be a word in season to all who have 
hitherto been careless and unconcerned about their souls. "If 



292 THE DANGER OF FORFEITING THE HEAVENLY REST. 

the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and 
the sinner appear?" This is a question which all who hear 
me can answer and apply to themselves. God grant that it 
may awaken them to the danger of delay, on so momentous 
an interest as their eternal condition. "Fools," it is said, 
"make a mock at sin;" but what name must those deserve 
who make a mock at salvation, and spurn from their regard 
an everlasting inheritance of heavenly glory! Merciful God! 
rend the veil from their hearts, by the convincing power of 
thy Holy Spirit. Let not thy word return unto thee empty, 
but bless thy truth, that it may be fruitful to thy praise, in 
hearts awakened to thy fear, and encouraged to cleave to thy 
grace in working out their everlasting salvation. 






SERMON XXV. 



THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 



Matthew vii. 21. 

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the king- 
dom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, 

The discoveries of the gospel 'are of a very awful and inter- 
esting character, my brethren, and very closely allied to the 
original and better impressions of our own hearts. There is 
no one, I presume, who has not at some time, perhaps very 
frequently, found his thoughts drawn out to a future state of 
being, and his mind engaged, however transiently, on his 
own personal condition in another world. . And whoever has 
attended to his own experience, even thus far, must have 
some perception of the great uncertainty of all conclusions of 
a future state, derived from the resources of human wisdom; 
and be also aware of the strong propensity in human nature 
to swerve from the express declarations of the divine word, 
and bring clown the standard of salvation to the convenience 
or the caprice of its own corrupt inclinations. 

To be furnished, then, against all doubt and uncertainty on 
so near a concern as our everlasting existence, ought surely 
to be considered a great blessing, and a ground of the deepest 
thankfulness, by every rational being; and should form the 
only foundation of their hope, and of their duties under those 
hopes. But while this will no doubt be admitted by all who 
hear me, I fear it must also be admitted, that this heaven- 
granted help to our severest necessity, has not been thus 
generally applied; that very few, comparatively speaking, 
have so brought their personal condition to this standard, as 
to have formed their expectations for hereafter solely upon 
what it makes known to all as the fixed and unchangeable 
determination of the Ruler of the Universe in dispensing the 
rewards and the punishments of eternity. 

It is a near and an inevitable interest, my dear friends, to 



294 THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 

which God calls your attention, and for which he hath made 
such wonderful provision, that it may be glorious to him and 
happy to you. But it can be so no otherwise than in con- 
formity with those great principles of his moral government, 
revealed in his word, which shall exhibit him to the universe 
of men and angels, "glorious in holiness and excellent in 
mercy;" long suffering and gracious to a race of sinners, yet 
inexorable against sin persisted in, against the honor of his 
law, and the manifestation of his love. God cannot save 
sinners, who die such. Salvation must be wrought out in the 
present life, by a death unto sin and new birth unto right- 
eousness; and fruits meet for repentance and faith must man- 
ifest the reality of those evangelical graces in our conversa- 
tion in this world, if we hope for their reward in another state 
of being. This is the clear and reasonable doctrine of the 
religion which the Son of God taught in person, and which 
the Holy Ghost hath recorded in the Scriptures of truth, for 
our learning. 

Yet clear and reasonable as it is, what multitudes in the 
present day, as at the beginning, venture to overlook or to 
disregard this authority, and to risk eternitv, either w T ith no 
preparation, or with a false or hypocritical one. "Many will 
say to me in that day, Lord! Lord!" Many will be ready 
and desirous to acknowledge Christ the Jud«;e, who could 
not be prevailed upon to confess the crucified Jesus before 
the world. "Many will say to me in that day — Lord, we 
have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught 
in our streets." Many will be desirous to claim an alliance 
with the King of heaven upon the unimproved privileges of 
Christian birth, or the mere profession of an unfruitful faith. 
"Many will say to me in that day — Lord, Lord, have we not 
prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out dev- 
ils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Many 
who call themselves his ministers, will be confident of being 
recognized by the great Head of the Church, in the day of 
judgment, upon false pretences to, and corrupt departure 
from, his pure and undefiled religion as it was taught and 
practised by his blessed apostles. But my text tells us it 
will be in vain. The description is sadly prophetic, my 
brethren, of the awful consequences of those corruptions and 



THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 295 

divisions which deform and impede the gospel. And my text 
is the warning which now addresses itself to me and to yon, 
lest that day come upon us with a false profession and an 
unfounded hope, unprovided to abide its trial and escape its 
doom. But it is not only the warning, it is the direction 
also, to shun the clanger, and escape the ruin, which it de- 
nounces alike against the careless and the presumptuous. 

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall en- 
ter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of 
my Father, which is in heaven." 

In discoursing on which words, I shall endeavor to explain, 
in the 

First place, what we are to understand by the words, 
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord." 

Secondly, what is meant by our Saviour's expression of 
men's "entering into the kingdom of heaven." 

Thirdly, I shall inquire what qualification must be pos- 
sessed by those who shall be admitted to enter in; and, then, 
Conclude with an application of the subject. 
I. First, I am to explain what we are to understand by the 
words, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord." 

As the words of my text were spoken at the close of that 
divine summary of Christian doctrine and practice, contained 
in our Saviour's Sermon on the mount, they evidently refer 
us, as well as those to whom they were spoken, to the trial 
and proof of all religious condition, in the standard of the 
gospel. They are, therefore, addressed to all those to whom 
the gospel is offered, and to whom, thereby, life and immor- 
tality are brought to light; but more particularly to those who 
in any manner rely on the Lord Jesus Christ for acceptance 
with God. The whole text is prospective in its bearing, and 
points us forward to that day when "God will judge the se- 
crets of men by Jesus Christ, according to the gospel;" and 
the supreme importance of an interest in him will be so man- 
ifest, that every semblance, even, of a knowledge of him or 
of his religion, will be resorted to, as a refuge against despair. 
By calling our Saviour Lord, we acknowledge him to be 
the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the 
world, thereby admitting his authority as a divine teacher, 
and owning the truth and obligation of his religion. But aa 



296 THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 

this acknowledgment of Christ necessarily includes obser- 
vance of his institutions and example, the words under con- 
sideration are an enforcement of this obligation upon all who' 
thus acknowledge him as Lord, with a plain declaration im- 
plied, that otherwise it will profit them nothing. "Why call 
ye me Lord, and do not the things whicli I say?" These 
words in the text, therefore, are equivalent to the declaration 
— Xot every one who is born in a Christian land, and re- 
ceived into the visible Church by baptism — not every one 
who makes an external profession of religion — not every 
nominal or pretended believer in Christianity — shall thereby 
be entitled to the rewards of my kingdom. These, indeed, are 
all required of those who call me Lord, and are profitable, as 
means to an end; but without the end they are but as leaves 
on the fig tree. The belief of religious truth, if it goes no 
further— if it produces no fruits, no corresponding effects 
upon the life, is a barren, useless thing; it is dead, being 
alone. This, therefore, says our Lord, will be no recom- 
mendation to my favor; to complete the Christian character, 
and fit you for the inheritance of the saints, more substantial 
proofs •of faith and holiness are required than the mere acci- 
dental advantages of birth and education, or the mere profes- 
sion of religion. This may easily exist, and even be found 
prominent, in the midst of inordinate affections, unsubdued 
lusts, unhumbled pride, and unholy lives. But into my 
kingdom, do unclean thing can enter; neither whatsoever 
woiketh abomination or loveth a lie. 

These are the words to be understood and applied by all 
under the gospel: a conclusion which is confirmed by the very 
purpose of religion, independently of any special declaration, 
and, therefore, to be the more seriously considered in every 
investigation of spiritual condition. Yet, as our blessed Re« 
deenier knew the prevailing propensity of our fallen nature 
to put words for things, and to substitute form for substance; 
as he also knew with what unwearied assiduity the great 
enemy of God and man would work for the corruption of the 
truth, and, even through the semblance of religion, seduce 
multitudes from the simplicity and certainty of the gospel; 
therefore did he warn them beforehand, that nothing short of 
the genuine fruit of the gospel, obtained through the opera- 



THE KULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 297 

tion of the Holy Ghost upon the heart, and manifested in 
the present life by a holy conversation in the world, would 
secure his acknowledgment of them as his true disciples, in 
the great day of eternity. "Not every one that saith unto 
me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." 

II. Secondly, I am to explain what is meant by our Sa- 
viour's expression of men's "entering into the kingdom of 
heaven." 

The words "kingdom of heaven," and "kingdom of God," 
are used in Scripture to express, sometimes the visible Church 
or communion of saints upon earth, and sometimes the king- 
dom of glory in a future state. In the present connexion 
there can be no doubt as to which of these our Lord refers 
in the text. By entering into this kingdom, then, we must 
understand the being adjudged worthy of a reward of eternal 
life, and as this necessarily leads the thoughts to realize the 
trial we have to undergo at the tribunal of Christ, it serves 
to impress more powerfully upon the heart the necessity of 
that circumspection and earnestness, that diligence and faith- 
fulness, in all our duties, without which there can be no good 
hope of being permitted to enter in. 

Few things, my brethren, are better calculated to beget a 
false estimate of religious condition, than to entertain in the 
imagination expectations of a future happiness without a dis- 
tinct reference to a future judgment. When the mind is ex- 
cited with high Avrought descriptions of the glories of hea- 
ven, or with high wrought imaginations of what awaits the 
righteous in the kingdom of God — when the practice prevails 
of dwelling upon this subject almost exclusively either in 
public or in private, and professors of religion are snatched, 
as it were, from death to glory, overlooking the awful trial 
which must precede it— the sober duties of the gospel are 
forgotten, and no relish is entertained for any thing in reli- 
gion, unless as it is calculated to uphold the delusion of a 
mind whose judgment is mastered by its feelings, and thereby 
incapacitated, certainly for the time, most probably at all 
times, for the reasonable service of redeemed beings to God 
and to each other. Therefore, as our entrance into the king- 
dom of heaven will depend altogether on the judgment to be 
passed by a heart-searching God on the deeds done in the 
[Vol. 2,— *20.] 



298 THE KULE OF FTJTUEE JUDGMENT. 

body, the constant recollection of this truth is the great pre- 
servative against the danger of an extravagant and unfounded 
hope, derived from feelings casually excited. 

It is this thought, my brethren and hearers, which brings 
the conduct, the actions, and motives of the man, rather than 
his language and his feelings, under examination. It is this 
thought which solemnizes the high expectation of a heavenly 
inheritance, and causes its entertainer to feel jealous lest he 
deceive himself; and which tempers the rejoicing, even of 
the righteous, with reverence and godly fear. And it is this 
thought which, by habitually connecting the reward with the 
duties to which it is promised, presents at once the most pow- 
erful motives to perform them, and the highest assurance of 
being counted worthy to enter in through the gates into the 
heavenly Jerusalem. "Not every one that saith unto me, 
Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he 
that docth the will of my Father which is in heaven." 

III. Thirdly, I am to inquire what qualiti cations must be 
possessed by those who shall be admitted to enter in. 

Our Saviour's declaration in the text is the full and satis- 
factory answer to this all-important inquiry, my brethren — 
He that doeth the will of God as revealed in his word. This 
answer, however short, comprehends all that wisdom can 
teach or life can practice, and is the sole condition on which 
the hope of eternal life can safely be entertained. 

There can be no question, then, either as to the duty or as 
to the necessity of acquainting ourselves with that will, and 
of following exactly what it prescribes; bringing our religious 
profession, our conduct as Christians, and our hope towards 
God, to the appointments, declarations, and example of his 
revealed word, as the only and the infallible standard of his 
holv will. 

Now, though this is certainly within the compass of the 
iiiility which God giveth, and in itself easy — or he would 
not require it of all who are favored with the gospel — never- 
theless, such is the situation of the Christian world through 
corruption of doctrine and division of order, that the truth is 
obscured and difficulty greatly increased in ascertaining what 
that will of God is, which must be followed and obeyed in 
order to salvation. Yet as this unhappy state of things can- 



THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 299 

not absolve from the obligation to inquire diligently what 
his will is, it should surely operate to increase the caution 
with which modern systems of divine truth are received and 
relied upon as the will of God; and this the rather, not only 
because we are warned against it in the word itself, but be- 
cause, in the whole extent of that word, there is not so much 
as a hint that sincerity in error will render a mistaken view 
of the will of God, and the erroneous conduct consequent 
thereon, acceptable to him and available to salvation. "What- 
ever, therefore, may be reasoned by men on this ground, is 
a gratuitous assumption of what God hath not revealed, and 
we may boldly say, could not reveal without thereby vacat- 
ing the whole purpose of the Bible as the infallible standard 
of his holy will to fallen sinners. "Many shall come in my 
name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many, but go 
ye not after them; for there shall arise false Christs and false 
prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch 
that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. Be- 
hold I have told you before." 

The great purpose of the gospel, and the declared will of 
God, being the sanctification of corrupt and sinful creatures, 
in order to fit them for future happiness, tins qualification 
must be obtained, or there can be no just hope of acceptance 
with God. But as no man can sanctify himself, in the proper 
sense of the word, as no fallen sinner can change his own 
heart, and renew the image of God in his own soul or in the 
soul of another, it is the will of God that all men should have 
recourse to the means of grace provided for this end, in and 
through the Lord Jesus Christ. He that would be saved, 
therefore, in the great day of eternity, must, in the present 
life, receive and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as he is 
offered to sinners in the gospel. He must repent and for- 
sake his sins, according to the conditions of the baptismal 
covenant in and bv which he is made a member of Christ, a 
child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven; and 
as in this new relation to God all the helps and privileges of 
the covenant of grace are conferred upon him, he is required, 
and does therein engage, to lead a new life, following the 
commandments of God. In which, if he persevere to the 
end, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and 



300 THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 

Saviour Jesus Christ, Iris title to the heavenly reward is ac- 
knowledged by the Judge, he is owned as a good and faith- 
ful servant, and enters into the joy of his Lord. 

But in point of fact, few or none do in this wise fulfil their 
baptismal engagement; for the privileges therein conferred 
are forfeited by personal sin. Yet where men might justly 
have been left without remedy, God, even the most merciful 
God, who knows whereof we are made, how frail and corrupt 
sin hath made us, and what powerful temptations are pre-' 
sented by the world, the flesh, and the devil, hath fitted this 
dispensation of his mercy and grace to our fallen and infirm 
condition; and in the grant of repentance and renewed obe- 
dience to all who have thus sinned, provides for their con- 
version and restoration to his favor, through the prevailing- 
intercession of his only begotten Son; and through faith in 
him, accepts them as righteous, and entitled to all the privi- 
lege and hopes of his adopted children. But the penitent 
thus restored must continue faithful, otherwise he incurs the 
awful risk of abandonment by the Spirit of fjrace, beins; de- 
livcreri over to the mastery of his own corruptions without 
restraint, and of being consigned to destruction as utterly 
incorrigible. 

The qualifications for eternal life, then, are repentance to- 
wards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, professed by 
embracing the gospel, and evidenced by the fruits of faith 
in all holy conversation and godliness of life; persisted in to 
the end as a faithful member of Christ's mystical body, the 
Church which he bought with his own blood, and for which 
he gave himself that he might cleanse it from all pollution, 
and present it to God a glorious Church, purified from the 
defilement of sin, and renewed in holiness. This purpose the 
faithful Christian has ever before him; he looks to the end- 
to the account he has to give in, to the Judge who shall as- 
sign his everlasting condition. These quicken and strengthen 
him "to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts" of a 
fallen, corrupt nature; to "put off the body of the sins of the 
flesh;" '"to cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and 
spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God;" and "to press 
toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in 
Christ Jesus." Great and manifest imperfection, yea even 






THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 301 

sin, cleaves to Ms best services; he feels that they are nothing 
worth in the eye of unspotted purity and holiness, that he is 
in himself an unprofitable servant. But he looks unto Jesus, 
to the promises of God in him, to the merit of his righteous- 
ness, and to the atoning virtue of his blood. Faith presents 
these continually to God, and hope looks forward with hum- 
ble confidence to the reward of grace in the "well done, good 
and faithful servant," with which his Lord and his Judge shall 
confess him before his Father and the holy angels. "Not 
every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into 
the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my 
Father which is in heaven." 

The application of this awful subject, and of what I have 
said upon it, brings home to our consideration, my brethren 
and hearers, the true design and purpose of the religion of 
the gospel, in preparing sinful creatures for everlasting hap- 
piness in the kingdom of God, by the renewal and sanctifica- 
tion of their corrupt natures in the present life. This alone, 
if duly considered, might give an importance to time, dis- 
tinct from every worldly consideration; and "teach us so to 
number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom" — 
might rescue this precious talent from the sinful vanities and 
idolatrous pursuits of the world, and devote it to the higher 
interests of our eternal state. How, then, let us ask our- 
selves, are we prepared for the awful solemnity represented 
in my text? My dear hearers, "we must all stand before the 
judgment seat of Christ;" from this there is no escape for 
any; and we know not how soon death may seal us up to the 
judgment of that day, and put repentance and hope for ever 
beyond our reach. Shall any, then, continue to trifle with 
this tremendous uncertainty, and, in the wantonness of defi- 
ance, provoke God to surrender them to impenitence? God 
forbid! Rather let it quicken us all, according to our seve- 
ral conditions, to "search and try our ways," and bring our 
hope, whatever it may be, to the standard of God's revealed 
will; for this it is which alone can correct error and give as- 
surance to truth, and by which we all shall be judged. 

Let professors of religion, especially, bring their hope to 
this standard; not in part only, but in the whole of its foun- 
dation and superstructure. Let them open their Bibles, and 



302 THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 

then trace, step by step, their conformity with the "will and 
command of Almighty God. Let them open their hearts, and 
there search for the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit. 
Let them inspect their lives, and, from the fruit thence yield- 
ed, judge whether the tree is made good. To them, in par- 
ticular, is the warning of my text addressed. They are the 
persons who call Christ Lord; and he therein affectionately 
cautions them against the shame and ruin of being by him 
disowned before God. 

And let those who have hitherto turned a deaf ear to the 
counsel of God, who have smothered the voice of conscience, 
and stifled the convictions of the Holt Spirit in their hearts; 
who are yet surrounded with the goodness of God, and cer- 
tified by the gospel, that "He hath not appointed them to 
wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ;" 
who must also be judged by the word spoken unto them — 
Let them awake to the warning of my text, and ask them- 
selves what ] .reparation is made for the day of the Lord, by 
doing the will of God? O let them bring the levity and 
thoughtlessness in which their day of life and grace is fast 
vanishing away, to the judgment then to pass upon the deeds 
done in the body, and ask themselves — Is this what God re- 
quires of me that I may be saved? Think a moment, my 
fellow sinners, of what God hath done for your salvation, and 
of what you have done in return for his love. Think of the 
awful hour when you must give account of yourselves, to 
Him who made and redeemed you, for the improvement of 
this and all his other mercies. And, think, what horror 
and despair will seize upon you above all others, when that 
merciful Saviour who poured out his life to save you from 
hell, shall be compelled to disown you; when your then ear- 
nest Lord, Lord, shall meet no answer from infinite love, but 
"Depart from me, I never knew you!" O try to realize this 
awful moment, till your sins become hateful and burden- 
some, and the cro^s of Christ your only refuge from the 
wrath of that day. Now it is given unto you by the long- 
suffering mercy of God to cry effectually, "Lord, I come to 
thee, thou hast the words of eternal life;" "Lord, I believe, 
help thou mine unbelief;" "Lord, save or I perish!" And now 
it is given to Christ to say to you, "Him that cometh unto 



THE RULE OF FUTURE JUDGMENT. 303 

me I will in no wise cast out;" "Son, thy sins be forgiven 
thee, go and sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee." 
But then, all this, now so freely offered you in Christ Jesus, 
will be done away. As your Judge, Christ will know no- 
thing but your works and your words — the temper of your 
souls, and the fruit of your doings; and according to the re- 
cord of your life must the everlasting sentence be passed. 

O that a gracious God may impress these solemn truths 
upon all your hearts, and bring your lives under their blessed 
influence. O that he would write in all our hearts the unal- 
terable appointment of his wisdom, in bringing sinners to 
salvation by the cross of Christ; that if we would be happy 
hereafter we must become holy here; that if we would enter 
into the kingdom of heaven we must do the will of God upon 
earth, as revealed to us in the gosjDel of his Son Jesus Christ 
our Lord. 



SERMON XXYI 



THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION". 



Titus iii. 8. 

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, 
that they •which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good: 
works. 

Could any reasonable doubt be entertained of the obliga- 
tion Christians are under to adorn their profession by a walk 
and conversation in the world conformed to the gospel of 
Christ, the strong terms in which the apostle here presses 
upon Titus the duty of insisting upon this point in his public 
preaching, might serve to correct it, and to warn all profess- 
ing Christians, that religion without the practice of its duties 
is no other than the building on the sand, which will be swept 
away in the day of trial, and confound the expectations of its 
deluded entertainer. At the first view of the subject, it 
would seem next to impossible that rational beings could so 
overlook the great purpose and design of religion as to satisfy 
themselves, or to imagine its Divine Author can be satisfied, 
with an empty profession of faith. Yet the Scriptures them- 
selves and our own experience concur in proving, that it is 
not only a possible, but a very frequent delusion, to substi- 
tute the form for the power of godliness. It is the bent and 
bias of our fallen nature, my brethren and hearers, to decline 
from the strait and narrow way of holiness — to pare down the 
duties of religion to the standard of our own interest and con- 
venience — to search for excuses to uphold some conformity 
with the world, and by making Christ the minister of sin, to 
make void, as to ourselves, the gracious purpose of his merci- 
ful undertaking for a world of sinners. This the apostle well 
knew, and, therefore, charged Titus in such strong terms to 
press upon his hearers the necessity of a holy life, in order to 
reap any benefit from a right faith. "This is a faithful say- 
ing;" that is, it is not only true, but a truth of such leading 



306 THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 

importance as to pervade the whole structure of Christianity, 
and to give to the hope derived from the gospel the character 
of "sure and certain," or of false and unfounded; therefore, 
says he, "I will that thou affirm this constantly." St. Paul 
had also experienced how prone men are to corrupt the car- 
dinal doctrine of justification by faith without works. He 
knew how readily the corrupt heart and clouded understand- 
ing of a fallen race would seize upon an abstract point in a 
system of religion, and build upon it the fatal delusions of 
antinomian error. He, therefore, enjoins it upon Titus to 
guard against this evil, and in the exercise of his public min- 
istry to enforce upon all believers the obligation of good 
works, not only as a distinct doctrine of the religion he was 
commissioned to teach, but as the only evidence of a true 
and saving faith. 

The union of a right faith and a holy life, therefore, being 
the only ground of a good hope to the believer, and in order 
to impress upon those who make a profession of religion the 
necessity of maintaining all such good works as God hath 
prepared for them to walk in, in discoursing upon these 
words I will, in the 

First place, explain in what sense the words "they which 
have believed in God" are to be understood and applied. 

Secondly, I will consider the nature and kind of the "good 
works" by them to be maintained. 

Thirdly, I shall point out the obligations which are neces- 
sarily undertaken by all who make a profession of religion; 
and, then, 

Conclude with some practical observations. 

"This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou 
affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might 
be careful to maintain good works." 

I. First. I am to explain in what manner the words "they 
which have believed in God" are to be understood and applied. 

It must be evident, I think, my brethren and hearers, that 
to any just and practical application of divine truth, it is ex- 
ceedingly necessary that the terms and figures made use of 
in Scripture to describe the effects produced by the preach- 
ing of the gospel under an extraordinary and miraculous dis- 
pensation of religion, should be carefully accommodated to 



THE DUTY OF PKOFESSOES OF RELIGION. 307 

the very different circumstances of the same religion, and of 
the persons to whom it is preached, when miraculous attes- 
tation is withdrawn. 

This accommodation, however, ought only to be applied to 
the manner in which a particular doctrine, or its effects, are 
exhibited by the inspired writers, and never to the doctrine 
itself or to the effect, as universally necessary. Thus, the 
doctrine of the operation of the Holy Spirit in the conversion 
of sinners and of the witness of the Spirit in believers, as ex- 
hibited in the Scriptures under an extraordinary dispensation 
of the Holy Ghost, to be practically useful, must be accom- 
modated to the circumstances of a dispensation in which only 
his ordinary operations are to be looked for and obtained; 
while the doctrines themselves are to be enforced as equally 
indispensable now as at the beginning. For sinners must 
yet be converted or perish, and there is no power which can 
change the heart and communicate spiritual life but God the 
Holy Ghost. 

But, however obvious this accommodation must be, and 
even essential to the just exhibition and practical application 
of revealed truth under the present state of the gospel, there 
is one particular in religious condition to which no difference, 
either of state or dispensation, admits of any accommodation. 
Both Heathen and Christian men must believe the gospel if 
they would be considered as believing in God. 

The gospel is his message to mankind by his only begotten 
Son. It is his testimony in the world to and of his only be- 
gotten Son, as the sole medium of his mercy and favor to 
men, and it is by him "commanded to be preached among 
all nations for the obedience of faith." Whosoever, therefore, 
receiveth not the gospel, believeth not God; and the Scripture 
declares of every such person, in its severest language, that 
"he hath made God a liar, because he believeth not the re- 
cord that God gave of his Son." 

The expression in my text, then, "they which have believed 
in God," being the designation given by St. Paul to those 
who, from among the Heathen, turned to the Lord by em- 
bracing the conditions of the gospel, must be understood and 
applied by us exclusively to those persons who, in like man- 
ner, by a public profession of faith in Christ, and by an open 



30S THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 

union with his visible Church, do show to the world that they 
have so believed in God, as he by his holy word requires them 
to believe. This was the evidence given by the first converts 
to the religion of the gospel. This was the only distinction 
between being of the world and being of God, known to the 
apostles of Christ. There was then no middle or neutral 
ground, like the abstract, naked belief of so many in these 
days; but every believer was openly professed, was in full 
communion with the Church, and was, therefore, only ac- 
counted a believer because he thus "continued steadfast in 
the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, 
and in prayers." Therefore, the same evidence must now 
determine whether we are of the number which have be- 
lieved in God, or of those who falsify the testimony he hath 
given by his only begotten Son, as the Saviour of the world. 

II. Secondly, I am to consider the nature and kind of good 
works by them to be maintained. 

It is a maxim of Christ's religion that "no man liveth to 
himself;" and though this is primarily to be taken, as the 
apostle teaches, of the account we have to give in to God, 
as our Lord and master, it is also true of the mutual depen- 
dence on each other, in which men are placed in the present 
life, and of the consequent elfects which the conduct of one 
may produce upon the welfare and happiness of many. 
Hence, as religion is the substitute which the wisdom of God 
hath devised, to supply the place of that original rectitude 
which the entertainment of sin expelled from the heart of 
man, the good works to be maintained by those which have 
believed in God, or who profess to be regulated by the laws 
of his religion, must be of such nature and kind as are both 
pleasing to God, by being directly religious, and profitable 
also to men, becau.se contributing to the peace, comfort, and 
welfare of the world. 

"They which have believed in God," therefore, will be 
careful to maintain the good work of cultivating the spirit of 
his religion in their hearts, by the study of his holy word, by 
meditating upon his glorious perfections, and by the frequent 
exercise of prayer. These are means which his wisdom hath 
devised and directed, to correct and transform the corruption 
of our hearts, to renew his image in our souls, and prepare 



THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 309 

us for the glory and happiness of his heavenly kingdom; and 
they are effectual to this end, through his promised blessing 
on their use. For what better safe-guard against those "evil 
thoughts which assault and hurt the soul," than to keep the 
heart occupied with meditations of God? What safer preven- 
tive against the entertainment of sin, than the recollection 
and sobriety of mind which the exercise of private prayer 
calls for? And what so effectual to promote growth in grace, 
as thus to cherish the Divine Spirit with habitual devotion? 
For thus runs the promise, "to him that hath shall be given, 
and he shall have more abundance." 

"They which have believed in God," will likewise be care- 
ful to maintain the good work of the public worship of God, 
by their personal presence in the house of the Lord; that 
they may join with their brethren in those holy exercises by 
which God is glorified, the Church edified, and faith increased. 
"I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the 
house of the Lord," is the language in which David expressed 
his delight in the public duties of religion; and a portion of 
the same spirit fills the heart of the devout Christian. When 
the holy day comes round and invites him to the high privi- 
lege of its sacred appointments, he is not of the number of 
those who, for some slight obstruction or trifling inconveni- 
ence to himself, "forsake the assembling of themselves toge- 
ther" with their brethren. Particularly when the great sa- 
crifice for sin is commemorated, is his soul alive to the 
mighty benefits procured for us by the same, and his spirit 
drawn out to be made one with Him "who loved us and gave 
himself for us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." 
Thus, in the exercise of public and private devotion, and 
in the use of the sacrament of Christ's body and blood as a 
means of grace to the soul, "they which have believed in 
God" are careful to maintain all such good works as he hath 
prepared for them to walk in, that they may thereby main- 
tain that good work which God hath begun in their hearts by 
his Holy Spirit, and reap that bright reward which he hath 
promised to their faith and obedience in his holy word. 

"They which have believed in God" will also be careful to 
maintain such good works as are profitable to men, not only 
by avoiding all actions directly injurious to others, but by 



310 THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 

the performance of all such within their ability as are either 
useful, beneficial, or consolatory, to their brethren, their 
friends, and neighbors, and all others in reach of their good 
offices. 
The Christian, then, will be a man of integrity. And, 
First, he will be just to himself; he will follow no calling 
or occupation which puts in danger the care of his soul. He 
will be just to his family, with industry and care providing 
for their needful support and advancement in life. As he 
hath covenanted for them with God and before men, he will 
honestly perform the promise and vow he hath publicly un- 
dertaken. He will, therefore, "train them up in the nurture 
and admonition of the Lord," carefully instilling the prin- 
ciples of religion and virtue, and diligently watching against 
and correcting the buddings of sin, both in temper and con- 
duct. As his children have renounced the world through 
him as their surety, he will neither lead them into its vanities 
by his example, nor expose them to its dissipations by his in- 
dulgence. From his instructions they will early learn that 
the world which surrounds them "lieth in wickedness," alien- 
ated from God; that its pleasures and its profits are the snares 
in which souls are taken captive by the ruler of its darkness, 
and that their safety consists in keeping away from the blan- 
dishment of its temptations; by his prudence, active em- 
ployment will leave no vacancy for its follies to fill up, and 
with the promised blessing of God on these faithful endeavors, 
their ears will be open to receive instruction, and their hearts 
to retain wisdom. 

Secondly, the Christian will be just to all men. "Whatever 
his calling may be, diligence, truth, and uprightness will pre- 
side over all his conduct. His treasure not being on earth, 
the frauds and extortions by which "they that will be rich 
fall into a snare;" and the maxims of gain, which the con- 
venient morality of the world sanctions, present no tempta- 
tion to him to violate the higher law by which his life is 
governed. The Christian, the believer in God, looks habitu- 
ally to the end, he realizes the continual inspection of an all 
seeing eye; and bearing ever in mind the impressive question, 
"What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and 
lose his own soul?" — he finds it a shield and a buckler against 



THE DUTY OF PEOFESSOES OF EELIGION. 311 

every inducement to unrighteous gain, and over engagement 
with the things which perish. 

Thirdly, the Christian will be merciful to all men. 

As the object and the subject of the highest mercy in his 
own person, the constant sense of this, under which he lives, 
prompts his heart to feel and to manifest benevolence, com- 
passion, and kindness to every creature of God. Being him- 
self forgiven his ten thousand talents, he retains not the 
hundred-pence offences of his fellow servants; but, in the ex- 
ercise of forgiveness, walks at liberty from the slavery of 
false honor, and the galling chains of pride, hatred, and re- 
venge. Particularly with the unfortunate and the afflicted 
does he feel himself drawn out to sympathize, and moved to 
contribute to their relief. Bat if he can do nothing more, he 
"weeps with those who weep," and tries to soften and as- 
suage the distress he cannot remove, by sharing in their 
grief. Because "charity seeketh not her own," the Christian 
pushes not his rights to extremity, the bitter tear of the 
widow and the fatherless is not made to flow more grievously 
through his exactions. Having learnt what that meaneth, 
"I will have mercy and not sacrifice," no ruin is accomplished 
under his hand; and, where the hardness of the world brings 
it to pass, he commits the case to Him who judgeth right- 
eously, and "whose tender mercies are over all his works." 

Fourthly, the Christian will be liberal to all men. 

His compassion will not be allowed to evaporate in the 
mere expression of pity, but will show itself by such fruits 
of active benevolence as the blessing of God has put at his 
disposal. And, if he is a Christian indeed, the luxury of this 
duty will not be denied him for want of means. Something 
will be reserved, even from his own accommodation, if no 
otherwise to be had, wherewith to relieve the indigent, to 
assist the destitute, above all — because comprehending all 
charities in one — above all. to set forward the grand remedy 
for the miseries of this life, in the advancement of the pure 
and undeflled religion of the gospel. This is near the heart 
of the true Christian, both as promoting the glory of God and 
insuring the good of men not only now but for ever. And 
did professing Christians but feel and understand as they 
should do their duty in this respect; did they sacrifice less 



312 THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 

to custom and more to principle; did they but estimate the 
souls that are perishing all around them for lack of know- 
ledge; did they reflect on the rich interest which would be 
retributed to their own souls in thus oaring fur the souls of 
others, they would surely turn what is wasted on the vanities 
of the world into this channel, and make glad the city of God 
with their liberality, whilst they also "laid up for themselves 
a good foundation against the time to come," in the "city 
which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." 
But these very things the true Christian provides for, by re- 
pressing inordinate desires, by interdicting extravagant ex- 
penditure, and by putting forth diligence and industry in his 
occupation. These are means which God has put in the reach 
of all Christians, and has warned them to "make to them- 
selves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness;" for on this 
will depend their being counted worthy of the true riches. 

Such, my brethren, are the "good works" which Titus was 
commanded to affirm constantly, that they which have be- 
lieved in God should be "careful to maintain." And surely 
the religion whose true purpose and genuine fruit it is to 
promote the glory of God by doing good to our fellow crea- 
tures, from a principle of love and obedience to him, must 
commend itself not only to Christians, but to all who can feel 
for human misery or desire human happiness. 

III. Thirdly, I am to point out the obligations which are 
necessarily undertaken by all who make a profession of 
religion. 

A profession of religion, properly understood, means the 
declared intention to devote the life to the service of God, ac- 
cording to the directions given in the gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. And whether this be done from the conviction 
of the understanding that it is the primary duty of every 
accountable being, to whom the offer of the gospel is made, 
forthwith to embrace it, or from any series of impressions and 
effects previously produced, makes no difference as to the 
obligations undertaken. 

The first obligation undertaken by those who make a pro- 
fession pf religion is, to forsake and abandon all known sin, that 
is, all acts, habits, and pursuits forbidden by the law of God. 

The great object of religion being the defeat and destruc- 



THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 313 

fclon of sin, and the high purpose wherefore Christ came in 
the flesh being to "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," 
those who profess to believe in God are bound by the high- 
est considerations to watch against every temptation to sin, 
and to resist its commission, whatever may be the conse- 
quence. As sin is in positive opposition to every perfection 
of the divine nature, and is absolutely inconsistent with the 
present and future happiness of moral beings, and the whole 
purpose of the present life being the extinguishment of its 
love in our hearts, and of its practice in our lives, the religion 
through which all this is to be effected cannot permit the 
entertainment of sin in those who profess to be governed by 
its holy laws. "They which have believed in God," there- 
fore, do by their profession undertake to renounce all the sin- 
ful acts, habits, and pursuits of their former lives, with what- 
ever directly, or by discoverable consequence, involves the 
commission of sin. 

In the next place, those who make a profession of religion 
do undertake to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this 
present world. 

The purpose of religion being to prepare sinners for hea- 
venly happiness and eternal glory, it is indispensably neces- 
sary to this end, not only that the love of sin should be rooted 
out, but that they should acquire those opposite tempers and 
dispositions of soul which form the character of holiness. God 
being essentially holy, all who aspire to the enjoyment of his 
everlasting presence must also become holy. And this holi- 
ness being to be obtained in the use of means by him pre- 
scribed, it is to the use of those means that professors of reli- 
gion bind themselves, and it is in the use of those means that 
they do actually become holy and heavenly minded persons. 
God, indeed, can confer holiness by an instantaneous trans- 
formation of the soul; but it is not thus that he deals with 
moral beings. He gives them the means of becoming holy, 
and assists them by his Spirit in the faithful use of them; but 
he requires them, and for this very reason, to work out their 
own salvation, by leading sober, righteous, and godly lives, 
as becometh their profession of faith in his holy word. 

To live soberly, is to maintain that recollected, serious de* 
portment, which so high an interest as heavenly happiness^ 
£Vol. 2,— *21.] 



dli THE DUTY OF PKOFESSOES OF EELIGIOK. 

eommitted to so corrupt and feeble a creature as the Chris- 
tian knows and feels himself to be, ought to produce. The 
thought of how much is at stake, of the means by which it 
has been made possible to be saved, of the awful consequen- 
ces of failure, as they must be frequent in the mind of the 
Christian, so must they necessarily beget that habit of watch- 
fulness and circumspection which constitutes sobriety of life.. 
This duty, however, is not confined to the general or prevail- 
ing deportment of the external conduct; it applies also to the 
regulation of the appetites, passions, and affections of the 
soul. These are all disordered and out of rule by the infec- 
tion of sin, and are to be restrained and governed, mortified 
and subdued, to the control and direction of God's holy law. 
They are also to be renewed and elevated to the high pur- 
pose for which they were originally given, by being directed 
to < rOD, accustomed to submit to his holy will, encouraged to 
trust in his faithful promises, and exalted to hope for his 
eternal presence as the full satisfaction of their capacity for 
enjoyment. 

This is an arduous task, my brethren; but it is what every 
professor of religion has undertaken and must accomplish, if 
he would gain "the prize of his high calling." But he is not 
called to it in his own weakness, but in the strength of the 
living God, who exhorts him to live soberly, to watch dili- 
gently, and to strive faithfully, because "it is God which 
worketh in him both to will and to do." A sufficient mea- 
sure of divine grace is bestowed upon every man, to enable 
him to believe and come to God, and upon every true be- 
liever, sufficient to all required duty; and in the power of 
this grace all things are possible to him that believeth. 

To live soberly, requires from the Christian professor a 
distinct separation from the deportment of the world in all 
those things which mark its ungodliness. The world, my 
brethren, is unholy, and Christians are called to come out of 
it. Its pomps and its vanities, its lusts and its pleasures, are 
inconsistent with all sobriety of mind. Even its more inno- 
cent pleasures and amusements can seldom be partaken of 
without the painful retrospect of mercies misapplied, without 
the sad experience that the soul is less inclined to hold its 
accustomed intercourse with God, or less lively in its ad- 



THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 315 

dresses to a throne of grace. Yet the sobriety of Christian 
deportment is neither inconsistent with or opposed to cheer- 
fulness and enjoyment. Christian society has its pleasures 
as well as the society of the world, with this marked advan- 
tage, that those who are qualified to enjoy them are not only 
made happy for the time, but better and happier for the time 
to come. And when this can be said for the social parties 
of the world, those who have undertaken to live soberly, as 
professors of religion, may, without danger or offence, be 
found among them; but not till then: 

To live righteously, is to do unto others as we would they 
should do unto us. This is the rule given by our Saviour to 
his disciples, as comprehending the three great principles of 
morality — truth, justice, and charity. And it is called the 
golden rule, not only because of its intrinsic and comprehen- 
sive wisdom, as the foundation of moral obligation among 
men, but because it makes our own wants and desires the 
measure of our charity and benevolence to others. 

As no man can possibly wish to be deceived, defrauded, 
or defamed, every man is bound, by that very circumstance, 
to perform all the offices of truth and justice towards other 
men, doing no injury to any, in his person, character, or es- 
tate. And as every man, when in distress, must wish to be 
relieved, according to the nature of his suffering, he is there- 
by bound to afford relief and assistance to others, in the 
same manner, to the extent of his ability. 

This obligation every professor of religion specially under- 
takes, .and on his fulfilment of it depends the worth of his 
profession, both here and hereafter. As human laws cannot 
enforce the duties of benevolence, the divine law enacts them 
as a branch of moral righteousness, and hath expressly de- 
clared that "the uurightepus shall not inherit the kingdom of 
God." 

To live godly, is to add to sobriety of deportment and 
righteousness of life the governing principle of the reverence 
and love of Almighty God. Acting from motives derived 
from him, and ending in him; referring continually to his 
holy will; depending wholly on his heavenly grace for direc- 
tion and support; hoping for and relying on his promised 
mercy, solely through the merits and death of the Lord Je- 



316 THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OF RELIGION. 

sus Christ, and manifesting this principle by a professed 
subjection to the gospel, by the regular and hearty perform- 
ance of all the public and private duties of religion, and by 
bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit in all goodness, and 
righteousness, and truth, in the life; — this is the holiness to 
which Christians are called, which they profess to desire and 
to seek for, and "without which no man shall see the Lord." 

Such are the good works which Titus, and all other minis- 
ters of Christ after him, was directed to affirm constantly, 
that "they which have believed in God" should be careful to 
maintain. And, in the explanation and enforcement of the 
text which I have laid before you, "ye see your calling," my 
brethren, and you learn the obligations you have come under 
as professors of religion. You learn also, the unspeakable 
consequences which depend on the faithful performance of 
them. As communicants, those obligations have lately again 
been renewed, and I conceived it my duty to recall your at- 
tention to them. 

Make them, then, the subject of your most serious consid- 
eration, and bring them to bear faithfully on your spiritual 
condition. Apply them particularly to two points in it. The 
one, the state of your heart in its private exercises and aspi- 
rations after God. Are you in this faithful to yourselves, 
cherishing the seed of divine grace in your hearts, by fre- 
quent prayer, and meditation in the divine word? Are you 
thankful, drawn out in praise for the divine mercies? Are 
you watchful, awake to the stirrings of sin in your hearts, 
and diligent to resist and drive away the temptation? The 
other point is, your compliance with customs and practices 
of the world which cannot be reconciled with a fervent spirit 
of piety, and with that separation from its vanities to which 
you are pledged. Do you comply with them? Do you com- 
ply from choice, or from constraint of some kind? Do you 
derive satisfaction or mortification from the compliance? 
These inquiries will enable you to "prove your own selves," 
and form a good ground of confidence and hope, or will call 
for penitence and amended life. And great thanks be to 
God, his ear is ever open to the cry of the penitent, and his 
hand ready to send him deliverance. 

The great danger of the present times consists in a general 



THE DUTY OF PROFESSORS OP RELIGION. 317 

propensity to lower the standard of religious duty and at- 
tainment, and to spread out the hope of the gospel so widely 
as to cover much in Christian conduct and in Christian con- 
dition, that neither the letter or the spirit of the gospel will 
warrant. This renders it the more necessary that those who 
make a profession of religion should increase their watchful- 
ness over themselves, and over their brethren; lest this ruin- 
ous deceit find countenance and support through their inad- 
vertent compliance in things not directly sinful, perhaps, in 
themselves, yet evidently the occasion of much sin and erro- 
neous opinion on the subject of religion, and certainly incon- 
sistent with the duties, and obligations, and attainments, of 
those who profess to have believed in God on the faith of his 
revealed word. The Church of Christ is compared to a city 
set on an hill, and the members thereof to the light which 
makes it discoverable amidst the darkness of the world.' But 
if this light itself become darkness, by the members gradu- 
ally conforming to the ways and practices of the world, this 
purpose is defeated; and Christians, by putting out the light, 
become the destroyers of their own hope. Therefore, my 
Christian brethren, as "ye are the body of Christ and mem- 
bers in particular, let your light so shine before men, that 
they may .see your good works, and glorify your Father which 
is in heaven." 



SERMON XXVII, 



DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 



2 Peter lii. 14. 

therefore, beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent that.^t 
may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 

"Were I called upon to say what I considered most condu- 
cive to the formation of the religious character, I would un- 
hesitatingly name serious consideration. And I think I am 
warranted in this from the actual condition of mankind, from 
the nature of religion, and the manner in which the commu- 
nications of the gospel are made to us. 

From the nature of man, fallen and depraved, he is chiefly 
•attracted by present and sensible things. Their power and 
influence over him are very great, not only because of their 
subserviency to his present comfort and enjoyment, but be- 
•cause of his natural darkness, and ignorance of higher and 
still more lasting enjoyments. Yet is there upon the mind 
of this fallen and perverted creature a faint and obscure, yet 
anxious and uneasy, perception of things which are not the 
objects of sense; in which, nevertheless, he is deeply inter- 
ested. Serious consideration, therefore, is the only thing 
which can enable him to form some just estimate of what he 
as most attracted by, and to give a clearer and more impres- 
sive character to those anxious interests which lie beyond 
the boundary of sense. 

From the nature of religion also, serious consideration must 
•enter into any safe or profitable examination of its importance 
to our present as well as future welfare. For religion is a 
science, even the science of eternal life, upon conditions de- 
clared by Almighty God, and proposed to our attainment. 
"Without serious consideration, therefore, it cannot be under- 
stood; and, if not understood, will never be desired and fol- 
lowed as the one thing needful. Religion, moreover, is a 
reasonable service rerpiired from man by his Creator, It 



320 DILIGENCE IN ItELIGION. 

must, therefore, be studied and treasured up in its informa- 
tion, its doctrines, its precepts, and its sanctions; and, though 
spiritual in its nature, it is made so to us, that is, we imbibe 
its spirit, through the instrumentality of means also proposed 
to be considered and applied by us. 

From the manner in which the communications of the gos- 
pel are made to us, moreover, the necessity as well as ad- 
vantage of serious consideration must be still more evident. 
For the gospel is in the nature of a proclamation or public 
message from a potentate to his subjects; and, as it embraces 
a great variety of matter as well as condition, and includes 
time that is past and time that is to come, as well as that now 
present, very careful attention is necessary to apprehend its 
connexion and bearing upon our individual interests. 

Having also this public message recorded for our instruc- 
tion, in such wise as to be equally authoritative with an au- 
dible delivery of its contents, the duty of acquainting our- 
selves with it is enforced by the readiness wherewith we 
may apply ourselves to this source of saving knowledge in 
divine things. 

If serious consideration, then, is thus necessary and profit- 
able to our entrance upon religion at all, it is equally so to 
our continuance in it with increase and advantage. As in all 
c»ther sciences, we delight in them more as we become bet- 
ter acquainted with them, so it is in an especial manner with, 
the science of religion. Its instruction is more deep, its dis- 
coveries more sublime, its results more certain: all its know- 
ledge leads to a practical result, and a present reward, with 
this high distinction over all the rest, that this reward shall 
be increased and perpetuated in eternity. 

That this serious consideration was recommended by our 
Lord and by his apostles, we learn from many passages in 
the gospels and epistles; and that it was practised by the 
primitive Christians, and particularly by those to whom St. 
Peter wrote this epistle, we learn from the context. From 
this it would appear, that meditations upon a future life, and 
upon the awful events of death and judgment, as preparatory 
to it, and bearing upon its condition for happiness or misery 
eternal, were the awakening and quickening considerations 
upon which their faith was fruitful in righteousness and true 



DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 321 

holiness. Looking for a new heaven and a new earth, ac- 
cording to the promise of God, wherein righteousness only 
should dwell, they were anxious to secure a place in that 
kingdom; and the apostle's exhortation in my text is founded 
upon this principle, and calculated to encourage them to 
keep their minds fixed upon these realities as alone compe- 
tent to counteract and overcome the deceits of sin and the 
ensnaring influence of temporal things. "Wherefore, belov- 
ed, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may 
be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." 

And do not the same things await us, my hearers? And 
do not some of us at least say in words, that we look for 
them? To deepen the impression, then, upon all our hearts, 
let us, 

Fikst, inquire into the particular events which occupy the 
thoughts of the people of God, that is, of all true Christians. 

Secondly, into the effect of such necessary though often- 
times alarming and painful meditations; and, then, 

Conclude, with a practical application of the subject. 

I. First, to inquire into the particular events which occu- 
py the thoughts of all true Christians. 

First, then, they are looking for death; they expect it; they 
know it must come. In this they differ from the people of 
the world. Both, to be sure, are equally certain of death, 
but one entertains it as a certainty which is to be desired; 
the other, which is to be feared. Both, indeed, feel and own 
the natural reluctance to part with life, and even with its 
miseries; but in the one, the reluctance is overcome, even in 
the most timid, by the power of faith in the promises of God, 
certified and sealed in the resurrection of Christ; while in 
the other it is increased by these very considerations, deep- 
ening the certainty of the awful consequences which will 
follow after death. However a man may live in unbelief, 
and bid defiance to all the sanctions of religion and the dic- 
tates of reason, he cannot die an infidel. In that hour of 
truth and reality, there is no sporting with eternity, it has 
him by the hand, nor can all the sophisms of 1 infidelity re- 
move its never ending grasp. 

By looking to this appointed end the Christian becomes 
familiar with it. Often does he, in thought, bring it all be- 



322 DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 

fore him, and acts over his death as a scene through whicli 
he must pass; often is it so realized in the deep abstraction 
•of his spirit, as hardly to be distinguished from the reality, 
until the mind reacts and returns him once more to the 
shadows of time — for such, indeed, they are, and never more 
trul v considered as such than when coming back from such 
a contemplation. I know not, my brethren, that this was 
exactly St. Paul's meaning when he said to the Corinthians, 
"I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus 
our Lord, I die daily.*' But every true Christian must, more 
or less, have met the hour of his death in those solemn med- 
itations which bring near the end of his faith and the enjoy- 
ment of his hope of immortality. 

Being thus familiar with it, he prepares for it as for a ne- 
cessary j( uiriK-v — he lays in those supplies, and provides those 
accommodations, which will enable him to pass through its 
dark valley with light and safety. His lamp lighted up at 
the promises of God's faithful word, shows him his Redeem- 
er's footsteps and guides him through its gloomy shadow to 
•the bright Uncreated light of his Father's presence. "The 
LoKD is his shepherd, and is with him; therefore, he fears no 
evil." 

In the serious contemplation of death, the Christian learns 
the true estimate <>f temporal things. He, therefore, holds 
them as accommodations of God's goodness to our present 
condition, and is thankful for his share of them. As they 
ace to be accounted for as his Master's goods, he strives to 
•be faithful in the management and diligent in the improve- 
ment of them. He, therefore, '"so uses the world as not 
abusing it;" neither wasfciag it in reveling and dissipation, 
nor boarding in anxious distrust or idolatrous love, but ac- 
cording to ability and opportunity he gives his Lord's money 
to the exchangers in the persons of the necessitous and suf- 
fering, "thus laying up a good foundation against the time 
to come, that he may lay hold on eternal life." 

Above all, in the certainty of the event and the uncer- 
tainty of the -time, seriously considered, the Christian learns 
that he l- has here no continuing city." He therefore, con- 
siders himself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth, and is 
hastening his return to another and a better country. His 



DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 323 

thoughts are at his home, with its loved society, its unspeak- 
able enjoyments, its everlasting reward. In all that God 
hath done for him and wrought in him here, he hath a fore- 
taste of the greater and better things which shall be conferred 
on him there. In the love of God in Christ Jesus he reali- 
zes the pledge of all needed mercy. In the cross of Christ, 
he sees justice satisfied, sin atoned for, and God reconciled. 
In the resurrection of Jesus, he sees death vanquished and 
"life and immortality brought to light." Thus delivered 
from the bondage created by the fear of death, he meets his 
3ast enemy without dismay, and asks him, "O death! where 
is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?" 

Secondly, as the Christian is looking for death, it is be- 
cause this is to him the commencement of another life. He 
is, therefore, looking for what must follow it, which St. Peter 
here calls "the coming of the day of God." 

This is the day which shall finally determine the everlast- 
ing condition of men and angels for happiness or misery. It 
is, therefore, called the "day of God" — '"the great and terri- 
ble day of the Lord" — "the day of God's vengeance;" because 
on that day the Almighty will vindicate the equity of all his 
ways and dealings with his creatures — because he will then 
"convince the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they 
have ungodly committed," and of all their hard speeches 
which ungodly sinners have spoken against him; and because 
on that day he will execute his righteous vengeance in the 
perdition of ungodly men. 

It is also called the last day, because it will be the last in 
which time will be measured by the revolution of the hea- 
venly bodies. As the evening and the morning were the 
first day at the creation, so, in like manner, will the evening 
and the morning of this day be the last at the close of this 
world, and will usher in eternity. Then shall the sun set in 
darkness and the moon withdraw her light, the stars shall 
fall from heaven, and the heavens themselves being on fire 
shall be dissolved. 

It is, moreover, called the clay of judgment, because "God 
will then judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom 
he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all 
men in that he hath raised him from the dead." 



324 



DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 



To this day the Christian knows that he must come; it is, 
therefore, much in his thoughts. The awful business then to 
be transacted, the infinite consequences then to follow, enter 
into his constant meditations. They are, indeed, solemn and 
heart-sinking subjects; but to the believer, the awe belonging 
to them is mixed up with a good hope, a joyful assurance, 
yea, in some, with a longing desire to come to it. "I know 
in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able 
to keep that which I have committed unto him against that 
day." The power and grace of his Kedeemer enable the 
Christian to contemplate even the terrors of the Lord in that 
day, without sinking under them. His power is almighty, 
his love is stronger than death, "and he is able to save to the 
uttermost all who come unto God by him." 

Thirdly, as death and judgment enter much into the medi- 
tations of the Christian, they necessarily lead him to the last 
particular to which he looks, and that is, "the rest which re- 
mainetli for the people of God." 

This is that recompense of reward to which he is taught to 
look, in expectation of which he is encouraged to persevere, 
and in the enjoyment of which there will be no limit. Im- 
agination, indeed, cannot measure it, nor language express 
it, yet it is securely laid up for those who seek it; it is rest 
with God — it is "a house not made with hands, eternal in the 
heavens." Jt is "a crown of glory which the Lokd, the 
righteous Judge, shall give to all them that love his appear- 
ing." It is "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that 
fadetli n<»t awav." 

II. Secondly, let us inquire into the effect of such neces- 
sary, though oftentimes alarming and painful, meditations. 

I know of nothing, my brethren and hearers, so over- 
whelming to the mind of man, as the first discovery made to 
the sinner by the Spirit of God, that he is exposed, through 
death, to the righteous judgment of God. There is a quality 
in this perception of divine things which cannot be described; 
it must be felt, and all who have experienced it, and now 
hear me, know that it is so. But it does not follow, as some 
very injuriously assert, that none have good ground to trust 
to, in their conversion to God, but such as have been extra- 
ordinarily awakened and turned round from sin; and I am 



DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 325 

inclined to think that great injury has been done to the cause 
of religion by this erroneous view of the doctrine of conver- 
sion, because its tendency has been to cause men rather to 
look for the extraordinary than to use diligently the ordinary 
means of grace to this end. Now these ordinary means are 
the serious consideration, and the faithful application, of what 
God hath revealed for our information, and commanded for 
our observance. And we have but to ask ourselves, my 
friends, what we might reasonably expect from the discove- 
ries of revelation honestly considered, to form some estimate 
of the great injury arising from this neglect. Let us but ask 
ourselves, my brethren, to what end God hath spoken, unless 
to inform his creatures? To what end hath he commanded, 
unless to require our obedience? And why are means pro- 
vided, but that we should use them? On any other principle, 
the great superstructure of revelation is a nullity. 

With this fixed in the mind, we may form some judgment 
of the effect which would be produced on the conscience of 
an out-breaking sinner, by the serious consideration of the 
consequences of death and judgment to himself, as set forth 
in the word of God. Can he entertain such meditations 
seriously, and yet retain his sins? Can he view himself as 
hourly exposed to eternal death, without alarm, without some 
attempt to escape from horrors which cannot be uttered? 
Can he see such a rich provision made for his recovery, par- 
don, and salvation, as the gospel is filled with, and not be 
drawn to make an effort to attain it? I hardly can think it. 
"We are none of us so hardy as to prefer, seriously, perdition 
to salvation. I know there are thousands who have heard 
all these things, and are yet unaffected by them; but I also 
know that they have never formed the subject-matter of one 
hour's serious meditation, never have yet been formed into 
prayer, and therefore it is, that they are without effect. The 
word of God has not lost its quality of being "quick and 
powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword." The 
means of grace have not lost their efficacy, nor has God with- 
drawn his promise to bless them in the use. But men have 
found out the fashion of doing without them, and vainly ex- 
pect to obtain the end without the means. But until they 
obtain a crop without waiting and working for it, the expec- 
tation is equally vain on the subject of religion. 



326 DILIGENCE W KELIGION. 

As, therefore, it must be evident that the effect would be 
favorable to all descriptions of men, did they but allow their 
thoughts to dwell with seriousness on the high interests of 
eternity, as revealed in the word of God, I would press upon 
all who have hitherto been negligent in this behalf, to ask 
themselves where it must end, and to reflect how every way 
inexcusable it is, in a rational being, to risk the sanctions of 
the gospel upon any other ground than a sincere and perse- 
vering effort to obtain its grace and secure its hope. TThere 
this endeavor has been made and failed, then may its efficacy 
be doubted, and its use superseded; but not till then. In 
other words, when God is found forgetful of his promise to 
the striving soul, then may men be excused for turning away 
from the awakening truths of death and judgment, and for 
the neglect of those means of grace which are provided to> 
give us the victory over death and a crown of eternal life. 

Essential, my brethren, as the entertainment of these solemn 
truths is to our entrance upon religion at all; to our continu- 
ance in the strait and narrow way they are indispensable. 

To counteract the ensnaring influence of the world and its 
deceits, encountering us at every stage and step of our jour- 
ney, the faith of eternal things is alone competent. "This is 
the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith." 
But faith will flag, will falter, will die away if not kept in 
continual exercise. "Forgetting the things that are behind, 
and reaching forth unto the things which are before, I press 
towards the mark," says St. Paul. In like manner let every 
Christian keep constantly before him the things which are 
not seen — which are above, where Ciikist ever Iivcth at the 
right hand of God. The same are the only effectual means 
to obtain the victory over ourselves and all other enemies. 
To be looking for the day of God; to step out of the body, as 
it were, and contemplate a hurtling world and blazing hea- 
vens; to see a new creation come forward, at the command 
of God, in which nothing sinful or unclean shall have place; 
to behold a lake of fire, in which all wickedness shall be con- 
fined in darkness and misery for ever, and to realize, that in 
one or the other of these must be his portion, quickens the 
Christian to make his calling and election sure. Thus the 
saints of old exercised themselves, my brethren. "Where- 



DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 



32T 



fore, beloved, seeing ye also look for such things, be diligent,, 
that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and 
blameless." 

I will now conclude with some practical reflections, as an 
application of the subject. 

And is it so, my dear hearers, that in the midst of life we- 
are in death, that death consigns us to judgment, and judg- 
ment to heaven or to hell for ever? Are we all certain that 
a few years more will be the utmost extent of the longest 
life among us, and are we all uncertain whether the next 
day, or even hour, may not close our account, and transmit 
us to the judgment? Are there no instances of sudden death 
in our memories, or have we an exemption from such a call? 
Can each of us call to mind some relation, friend, or neigh- 
bor, who not long since was with us, but is now in the world 
of spirits? How, then, ought such considerations to affect us. 
O look forward to that hour, and think, would you not wish 
to be ready? Would you then wish to look back on a life 
spent in vice and dissipation, in neglect of God and your 
soul? Would you then desire to find God not reconciled, 
your sins unpardoned, no Saviour sought unto? Yet what 
but this can be expected by all who neglect the gospel? "O 
that you were wise, that you understood this, that you would 
consider your latter end!" 

Again, the day of God is drawing nearer and nearer, when 
the voice of the archangel and the trump of God shall call 
the dust of the earth to judgment. And must we all be there- 
before the judgment seat of Christ, dear friends, young and 
old, rich and poor, bond and free, with no distinction but 
from our lives? Yes, we must all meet there, and receive 
according to the deeds done in this body. How, then, would 
we wish to be found of him in that day? In peace or at war? 
O remember, my dear hearers, that there is no neutral ground 
there: if we are not at peace with God, and that peace rati- 
fied here on earth, we are at war, and must be treated as 
enemies. And remember that no sinner ever found peace 
with God but through the Lord Jesus Christ, accepted as he 
is offered in the gospel, and received by faith. And where 
would you wish to be placed on that awful day? on the right 
kand or on the left? With what sentence to- be greeted by 



328 DILIGENCE IN RELIGION. 

your Judge? "Depart from me ye cursed," or, "Come ye bless- 
ed?" Yet we shall all hear these mighty words, and feel the 
effect of them for ever. No repentance will then avail; no 
prayer will then be heard. "Now is the accepted time, now 
is the day of salvation." "To-day, then, if you will hear his 
voice, harden not your hearts." Listen to the truth that would 
save you. Flee to the mercv that is not yet shut against 
your prayers. Entertain the solemn meditations of eternity, 
and learn that you are immortal, through mortality. 

Lastly, a blessed, joyful, and glorious eternity with God in 
heaven, or a cursed, despairing, and everlasting perdition 
with devils and damned spirits in the torments of hell, await 
us all. What say we, then, to these things, my hearers? 
Have you a choice, a preference, and what is it? Have you 
asked yourselves the question? Have you considered it? 
Have you counted up what it is to be happy or miserable 
for ever? Or have you postponed it, as something at a great 
dietanee, and that does not concern you in the days while 
you can indulge in the propensities of the flesh, in the vani- 
ties of the world? "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, 
and walk in the sight of thine eyes, and desires of thine heart. 
But know, that for all these things God will call thee into 
judgment." Or have you settled it upon the infidel princi- 
ple, that God is too merciful to punish men forever? Indeed, 
and how know you that? See you no punishment, no misery 
here, none that endures throughout the period of human life, 
and, therefore, may just as reasonably endure through another 
and an eternal existence? Oh! at what a tremendous risk 
will men try to be wise above what is written, and harden 
their hearts against the awful events of death, judgment, 
eternity, the wrath of God omnipotent, the irreversible sen- 
tence, the bottomless pit, the lake of fire, the miseries of the 
damned! O, my dear hearers, let God be true, and every 
man a liar who would gainsay his word, his faithful, warning 
word, which declares — whatever the wicked may say and 
hope to the contrary — that impenitent sinners shall have 
"their portion where the worm never dies, and the tire never 
shall be quenched." 

Seeing, then, my Christian brethren, that we look for such 
things, that they are most surely believed by us, "What man- 



DILIGENCE EST RELIGION. 329 

tier of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and 
godliness?" How ought our deportment in the world to indi- 
cate that we are not of the world? Alas! alas! because the 
love of many waxes cold, iniquity abounds! Let these so- 
lemn truths, then, bring us back to what we should be. Let 
us dwell upon them, and realize them, and act for our eter- 
nal interests with at least as much zeal and industry as we 
do for our earthly accommodations, profits and pleasures. 
Let not the name of God be profaned through our lukewarm- 
ness, coldness, and deadness in our religious profession. The 
veriest sinner in the world knows how we ought to be affect- 
ed, and to walk in life, under the professed belief of the gos- 
pel. When, therefore, he sees professing Christians, under 
the declared expectation of heaven or hell, according to the 
deeds done in the body, walking according to the course of 
this world, he is not only fortified in unbelief, but filled with 
contempt for religion. Let this reproach, then, be put away 
from us, my brethren. "Yet a little while and he that shall 
come will come, and will not tarry." Let us, then, prepare 
to meet our God, that when he shall appear, we may be found 
of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 



[Vol. 2,— *22.] 



SERMON XXVIII. 

7 
THE LOVE OF THE WORLD INCOMPATIBLE "WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 



1 John ii. 15. • 

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any 
man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 

Amidst tlie various temptations which surround us, my 
brethren, some are more immediate and more powerful than 
others, not only in themselves, but also in the depraved af-' 
fections of our corrupt hearts. Of those temptations, that 
which in Scripture language is called the world, appears to 
possess the greatest as well as the most general influence over 
mankind. Hence the frequency and earnestness with which 
the counsel and warning of God's most holy word is directed 
to this point; and the danger to be apprehended from undue 
preference of, and over engagement with, its business or its 
pleasures, is exhibited under the striking contrast of things 
which, from their very nature, must perish and come to an 
end, and of things equally, indeed more certainly, attainable 
by us, which shall endure and continue for ever. 

Among those warnings my text holds a very conspicuous 
place. And as it presents to our consideration the solemn 
obligation to renounce and overcome the world, and to sepa- 
rate themselves from its unhallowed ]3ursuits, which all bap- 
tized persons have come under, and all professing Christians 
have repeatedly renewed, and we are this day once more to 
renew in the most solemn manner in the sacrament of the 
death of Christ, I trust it will be a profitable improvement 
of the occasion, to lay before you such a plain but necessarily 
brief exposition of this unpalatable but vital subject, as shall, 
with the blessing of God, fasten upon the consciences of pro- 
fessing Christians their indispensable duty, and awaken un- 
believers to the dangerous and unprofitable nature of those 
pursuits whose certain and declared end is irretrievable per- 
dition. 

"With this view, I shall, 



332 THE LOVE OF THE "WORLD 

First, inquire what is to be understood by the word world, 
as here used. 

Secondly, I will endeavor to point out what kind of con- 
duct exhibits that "love of the world," and of "the things that 
are in it," which my text declares to be incompatible with 
sincerity of religious profession, here expressed by "the love 
of the Father." 

Thirdly, I will conclude with some considerations calcu- 
lated to enforce the exhortation of my text upon the commu- 
nicants of the Church. 

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the 
world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is 
not in him." 

I. First, I am to inquire what is to be understood by the 
word world, as here used. 

That the word world is applied in various senses in the 
Scriptures, must be evident to all who have any acquaintance 
with the contents of the sacred volume. Sometimes it signi- 
fies the frame of the material world, or visible creation, as in 
the 24th Psalm — "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness 
thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." Sometimes 
it is used to denote the race of mankind in general, as in the 
3d chapter of St. John's Gospel — "God so loved the world" 
as to send his Son to save it. In other instances, the wicked 
and ungodly are called the world, as in our Lord's discourse 
with his twelve disciples before his Passion, in the 15th chap- 
ter of the same Gospel — "If ye were of the world, the world 
would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but 
I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world ha- 
tcth you." In other places it is applied to the pursuits and 
occupations of men in the present life, whether innocent or 
criminal, but chiefly the latter, as in the words of my text — 
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the 
world," and in the Epistle to the Romans — "Be not con- 
formed to this world." 

The proper meaning of the word in any particular place, 
therefore, must be determined by the context; and applying 
this rule to the word world, as used in the text, and in the 
chapter from which the text is taken, it is plain that Chris- 
tians arc exhorted against allowing their desires and an'ec- 



INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 333 

tions to become entangled, and their exertions over-engaged, 
"with the things that are in the world. And what those things 
are which are thus dangerous to the health of the soul, the 
inspired apostle enumerates under the threefold description 
of "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of 
life." 

The j)ractical meaning of the word world, then, as here 
used, must be understood of those visible and sensible things 
which form, at one and the same time, the objects of our de- 
sire and pursuit, and the subjects of our trial and probation. 
Many of these are indispensable to our subsistence, as the 
necessary occupations and business of the present life, where- 
by alone those blessings and comforts, which the entrance of 
sin into the world banished from the spontaneous produc- 
tions of the earth, are to be obtained. Some are objects of 
desire, and stimulate to industry by the gratification and en- 
joyment which they yield or serve to procure. Others are 
rendered necessary by the condition of the world — as the 
lienors, and emoluments of those offices of power and trust 
whereby civil government is conducted. And all of them 
are in themselves good, as serving to maintain the state of 
the world; perfectly consistent with the religious duties of 
redeemed sinners in their engagement with them, yet capa- 
ble of being perverted, and of becoming the fruitful occasion 
of sin and condemnation, by the abuse. 

In the combined influence of these indispensable, desira- 
ble, and necessary things, we learn, my brethren, what that 
world is, against the love of which we are so earnestly warned 
and exhorted. And as thej are objects of desire and attain- 
ment to all, they form a just measure of moral condition in 
the sight of God — according to the preference given to them, 
to the means used to obtain them, and to the application 
made of them when obtained. 

II. Secondly, I am to point out what kind of conduct ex- 
hibits that love of the world and of the things that are in it, 
which my text declares to be incompatible with sincerity of 
religious profession here, expressed by "the love of the Fa- 
ther." 

If we bear in mind, my brethren and hearers, to what de- 
scription of persons this and the other epistles of the apostles 



334 THE LOVE OF THE WORLD 

of Christ were addressed, it will present two points of dis- 
crimination in moral condition, of very awakening interest 
to the two classes into which the world called Christian is 
divided, and very helpful to a right understanding and safe 
application of this part of my subject, and of the contents of 
the epistles generally. 

Now there can be no reasonable doubt that the epistles 
were addressed exclusively to believers in Christ, whose 
faith in him was publicly professed; who were taken into 
union with Christ by the sacrament of baptism; constituted 
thereby members of his body, the Church; entitled to all the 
privileges of the household of faith, in the sacrament of his 
death, in the sanctifying operations of the Holt Ghost, and 
in the precious promises of Almighty God, made to them in 
Christ. This being undeniably the case, the two points of 
discrimination in moral condition presented to our consider- 
ation, are the following: 

First, that none were considered in union with Christ, and 
entitled to the promises of the gospel, but those only who 
were in open communion with the visible Church, and with 
the apostles as the representatives of Christ upon earth — • 
there not being a single instance in the whole ISTew Testa- 
ment, of any who were accounted and acknowledged as be- 
lievers in Christ, after the da}- of Pentecost, but such only as 
followed up their baptismal profession by continuing "stead- 
fast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking 
of bread, and in prayers." 

Secondly, the exhortations to watchfulness against sin in 
general, and against particular temptations to sin, and the 
warnings so frequently repeated, that the promises and privi- 
leges of the gospel would all be forfeited by remissness in 
their duty, and disregard of the obligations entered into at 
their baptism — being addressed exclusively to Christians, is 
conclusive testimony against all absolute and unconditional 
doctrine in the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the 
strongest conceivable argument that Christians, as such, 
should "give all diligence to make their calling and election 
sure, lest they fail of the grace of Goo." 

The inquiry, then, being into a particular course of con- 
duct, by a particular class of persons, under special and de- 



INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 335 

dared obligations, it will be the more easy for me to point 
out, and for you to apprehend, whereby is exhibited that 
love of the world and of the things that are in it, which is in- 
compatible with the profession of a Christian. And, as our 
engagement with the world is comprehended under the two 
heads of its business and its pleasures, I shall confine myself 
to them, as presenting the most profitable, because the most 
necessary, application of my text. 

First, then, as respects our worldly business. 

Christians, having the same wants with other men, are 
obliged to resort to some active means to supply them. In- 
deed, the first penalty imposed upon man after he became 
mortal, was labor — "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat 
bread, until thou return unto the ground."- And in some wav, 
though in very various manners and degrees, all have to sub- 
mit to this universal law. But if the necessary business Of 
life is pursued by the believer with the same views and to the 
same ends as by the unbeliever; if he give way to the temp- 
tations of gain, or of ambition, or of voluptuousness, and suf- 
fer his affections to become bound down to the things that 
are in the world, however lawful in themselves; if they are 
sought after for their own sake, or relied upon with unhal- 
lowed dependence; above all, if his worldly business is al- 
lowed to interfere with or to supersede the care of his soul, as 
he differs in nothing but the name and mere outward profes- 
sion from the men of the world, who have their portion in 
this life — he is classed with them by that righteous Judge 
who searcheth the hearts of the children of men, and deter- 
mines the moral condition of his creatures, not by their pro- 
fessions, but by the motives and ends which actuate and 
•govern their conduct. 

To fallen beings, whose hearts are corrupt, whose affec- 
tions are estranged from God. in whom flesh and sense pre- 
dominate, who by faith only can pass beyond the boundary 
of the present life, and who can arrive at faith and hope to- 
wards God no otherwise than by the preventing grace of the 
Holy Ghost, the danger is imminent, that in the pursuits 
:and occupations of time, eternity should be overlooked. Hence 
the deep interest manifested by our Lord himself, and by his 
inspired apostles, that all who profess and call themselves 



336 THE LOVE OF THE WORLD 

Christians, should be constantly on their guard against the 
seducing influence of temporal condition in the temptations 
presented by the necessary business of life, and by the still 
more insidious and encroaching operation of the riches, hon- 
ors, and pleasures of the world; and hence the plain, earnest, 
and repeated warnings in the word of God, against the dan- 
ger, both direct and indirect, arising from this cause. 

As "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the 
things which he possesseth," our blessed Lord thence derives 
the various cautions which are recorded for our learning: — 
"Take heed, and beware of covetousness;" "Take heed to 
yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with 
surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life;" "What 
is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose 
his own souH" "How hardly shall they that have riches en- 
ter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go 
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into 
the kingdom of God." "And I say unto you, make to your- 
selves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; for, if ye 
have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will 
commit to your trust the true riches?" 

St. Paul's testimony to the danger, to Christians, from the 
temptations incident to the business of the world, is equally 
clear and direct. "The love of money," says he, "is the root 
of all evil." "They that will be rich fall into temptation and 
a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown 
men in destruction and perdition." Hence, this apostle 
classes covetousness with idolatry, and includes it among 
those sins which exclude men from the kingdom of heaven. 
"For this ye know," says he, writing to the Ephesians, "that 
no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who 
is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Curist 
and of God." To the operation of this inordinate appetite, 
likewise, he ascribes the difficulties and obscurities charged 
against the gospel by those who for this cause rejected it. 
"If our gospel be hid," says he, that is, hard to understand, 
"it is hid through the things which perish," that is, the pro- 
fits and the pleasures of the world, w r hereby, that is, by the 
influence of which, "the god of this world hath blinded the 
minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glori- 



INCOMPATIBLE WITO THE LOVE OF GOD. 337 

ous gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine 
unto them." And hence his exhortations to the Churches 
under his care — "So to use this world as not abusing it." u To 
be content with such things as they have." "To set their 
affections on things above, and not on things on the earth;" 
and, as including all, "not to be conformed to this world." 

St. James, also, sets forth the obstructions thrown in the 
way of religious attainment, by over-engagement with the 
things that are in the world, in very strong language. "Ye 
lust and have not; ye have not, because ye ask not; ye ask 
and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume 
it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye 
not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? 
Whosoever, therefore, will be the friend of the world is the 
enemy of God." And, in the same earnest manner, he de- 
nounces the ruinous consequences of "riches kept by the 
owners thereof to their hurt. Go to now, ye rich men, weep 
and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you; your 
riches are corrupted, your gold and silver is cankered, and 
the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat 
your flesh as it were fire." 

And St. John confirms the whole by declaring, as in the 
words of my text, that over-engagement with the business of 
the world, however lawful and necessary the business may 
be, is such evidence of a preference of the world, as ranks its 
unhappy object as the enemy of God — "If any man love the 
world, the love of the Father is not in him." 

Such is the clear and convincing testimony of divine truth, 
my brethren, to the danger arising from our necessary con- 
nexion with the business of the world. The principle is plain 
and obvious to every apprehension, and there can be no dif- 
ficulty in every man's so applying it to his own conduct, in 
connexion with the motives which prompt and govern that 
conduct, as readily to determine whether he is in such wise 
a lover of the world, as that the love of the Father cannot be 
the real temper of his soul. And should any be disposed to 
think it a hard saying, and to repine at so severe a probation, 
let such reflect seriously on the nature of moral conduct, on 
the requisites to a state of trial, on the objects to be attained 
by the self-denial and watchfulness to be exercised, and on 



338 THE LOVE OF THE WORLD 

the means bestowed by a gracious God to ensure victory 
to the faithful soldier of the cross in this warfare; and all 
such sinful repining must be banished from the thoughts, as 
alike dishonorable to God and injurious to ourselves. But, 
more than this. When it is considered that what Christians 
are warned against is excess in the desire, and abuse in the 
application, of the things that are in the world, whatever 
would oppose itself to the equity of his dealing with us in 
this trial of our faith and obedience, must stand condemned 
as no less unz-easonable than sinful; and the conclusion be 
universally admitted, that it is only by the most inexcusable 
neglect of the warnings of God's word, of the solemn obliga- 
tions of the baptismal covenant, and of the appointed means 
of grace, that the world prevails against so many immortal 
and redeemed souls, and robs them of their salvation, under 
the delusive promises of its most uncertain and most surely 
perishing reward. 

Secondly, as respects our worldly enjoyments. 

Labor and toil, success and disappointment, suffering and 
death, till up the chequered scene of this world's pilgrimage. 
"Great travail is created fur every man, and an heavy yoke 
is on the sons of Adam from the day that they go out of their 
mother's womb, till the day that they return to the mother 
of all things."- Yet while this truth will be felt and acknow- 
ledged by all, it would betray a most ungrateful and un- 
thankful spirit to overlook the many sources of comfort and 
enjoyment which the love of God hath reserved to his crea- 
tures, out of the wreck of that unmixed happiness in which 
they were originally placed by their Creator. And were 
men but as wise to discern, and as willing to be instructed, 
wherein their true happiness consists, as they are eager to 
pursue pleasure, and careless to consider the quality of the 
delight, the moral condition of the world would speedily 
change sides, and the balance preponderate in favor of enjoy- 
ment. For, J'God giveth us all things richly to enjoy," and 
mercifully superadds those warnings and cautions which ren- 
der enjoyment rational, sure, and lasting. 

Man, then, i3 the artificer of his own misery, and strange 

* Eccles. xl. 1. 



INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 339 

as it may appear, he becomes such chiefly in the pursuit of 
his happiness. But, as it is the happiness of a fallen nature 
which he pursues, the fruit of his labor is disappointment. 
The deluding phantom still flits before him, still escapes his 
eager grasp; till exhausted passions and decayed powers 
yield to that mortal stroke which writes "vanity and vexation 
of spirit" upon every pursuit unconnected with eternity. 

Of the things that are in the world which may be classed' 
under the head of enjoyments, the same is true as of the 
business of the world. It is by the quality of its nature, the 
degree of desire and pursuit, and the extent of its indulgence, 
that the character of enjoyment, and the evidence thereby 
given of moral condition, is determined. "Lovers of plea- 
sure more than lovers of God" — however lawful and innocent 
in themselves those pleasures may be — give thereby as direct 
evidence of the idolatry of the heart, of its preference of the 
ereature to the Creator, as is furnished by the lovers of all 
evil. And as the Searcher of hearts will be guided by this 
rule in the judgment of eternity, it forms the standard to 
which the Christian must bring his condition, and by which 
he must determine the allowable or forbidden, the profitable 
or injurious, character of his worldly enjoyments. 

The pleasures of the world which affect most directly our 
religious condition, may properly be reduced to these two; 
the gratifications of sense, and the gratifications of vanity. 
The former of these will include the appetites and passions of 
the body; the latter, the appetites and passions of the mind. 

First, then, of the appetites and passions of the body, it 
must be evident that the abuse only can be criminal. They 
are necessary parts of the frame of our being, and must be 
supplied in their various wants if we would continue to exist. 
Hence inordinate desire and intemperate indulgence mark 
that preference of carnal delights which is utterly incompat- 
ible with any serious sense of religious obligation; and, as it 
tends directly to destroy the body, to debase the faculties of 
the soul, to efface the image of God stamped upon those fa- 
culties, and to degrade a rational being to the level of the 
beasts that perish, is abhorred of God. 

Against this strong propensity and ever-present tempta- 
tion, our blessed Lokd directed his warning when he said to 



340 THE LOVE OF THE WOKLD 

his disciples, "Take heed lest at any time your hearts be 
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness:" and the ex- 
isting state of society demonstrates, how thoroughly sensual 
indulgence blocks up the avenue to spiritual attainment. 
Against this danger, the Christian has to arm himself with 
the greater care, in proportion as the morality of the world, 
has approximated to the standard of the gospel, and the gross- 
ness and licentiousness of vice has been banished from the 
decency of civilized manners. And it is a point of Christian 
obligation, which requires to be the more strongly enforced, 
because of the prevailing propensity to measure and compare 
our moral condition rather with that of those around us, than 
with the requirements of the gospel; and if free from the pro- 
fligate debauchery of the dissolute, to cherish a pharisaical 
righteousness, and thank God ''that we are not as other men 
are.'' 

But, my brethren, vice changes not its character with its 
dress. However decent in its exterior, however refined in 
its habiliments, it is still the dark and deformed thing which 
is at enmity with God, and excludes from his favor. Where 
the heart is set upon self-indulgence — whether it be the lust 
of the flesh, or the lust of the mind, with whatever decency, 
or secrecy, or profession of piety it may be covered — it is 
impressed with that preference of regard which my text de- 
clares incompatible with the love of God. 

Jn the external similarity of moral condition and conduct 
which Christian lands exhibit, it would be botli tedious and 
dilHcult so to illustrate the general principle by particular 
examples as to meet the variety of cases to which it applies. 
The Christian, however, the believer in God and in Jesus 
(iikir-Tour Lord, is furnished with effectual means in the 
knowledge of his own heart, and in the counsel and example 
of the divine word, to determine the governing principle of 
his life; and lie is bound by the worth of his soul to apply 
them faithfully. If the love of the Father rules his heart, 
the apostolic precept, "whether ye eat or drink, or whatso- 
ever ye do, do all to the glory of God," will preside over the 
gratifications he allows to the appetites and passions of his 
mortal nature, and will increase their enjoyment by heartfelt 
thankfulness for the bounty which supplies the use, and for 



INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 341 

the heavenly grace which restrains from the abuse, of the 
divine mercies. But where the love of the world in its sen- 
sual gratifications prevails or predominates, and in propor- 
tion to the degree, there the sense of God as supreme, of de- 
pendence upon him, and of thankfulness to him for his good 
creatures, is either "not in all the thoughts," or the mere 
transient scintillation of better principle, dying away under 
the suffocating influence of those "fleshly lusts which war 
against the soul." And even where doubt may be enter- 
tained as to the governing principle of the conduct, where 
fears may exist that the love of worldly pleasure is stronger 
in the heart than the love of G-od, let the Christian, let the 
person who would be a Christian, keep in mind, that self-de- 
nial is the strait and narrow way which leadeth unto life, and 
that by thus taking up the cross he becomes that disciple of 
Christ, for whom there is treasure laid up in heaven. 
Secondly, the gratifications of vanity. 
Under this denomination a class of vices is included equal- 
ly destructive of and inconsistent with the religious principle 
in the heart, and as clearly denoting its alienation from God, 
as the grosser sins of sensual indulgence. Of this, however, 
it appears hard to convince men, notwithstanding the testi- 
mony of Scripture and reason to the fact, and of observation 
and experience to the effect. Hence it is the more necessary 
to point out their danger in this respect to professors of reli- 
gion — a danger greatly increased by the growing disregard 
of those wise and reasonable distinctions in external deport- 
ment, which mark the separation of the Christian from the 
world during the rest of the week as well as on the Lord's dav. 
The vicious and sinful indulgences which come under this 
head, are such as are connected with and derived from what 
St. John denominates "the pride of life." And as this is to 
be understood of the ostentatious display of worldly power 
and riches, it will include all those extravagances over which 
the fashion of the world bears rule, with a domination more 
extensive and with an observance more unreserved, than the 
holy and life-giving word of God receives from the creatures 
of his power and the objects of his mercy. 

But, what, my dear brethren, has the Christian to do with 
any of these things? What has the person who has felt and 



o 



42 THE LOYE OF THE WORLD 



confessed himself to be a fallen and depraved creature, a 
ruined and condemned sinner, a stranger and a pilgrim on the 
earth, who professes to look for another and a better country, 
even an heavenly — what has such a one to do with the pride 
of life in any of its shapes? Is it for him to glory in his riches 
or personal consequence, and by an ostentatious display in 
his domestic establishment, to bring in question the sincerity 
of his public profession of religion? Surely pride was not 
made for such a one, or the blessing of God bestowed on his 
industry to be lavished on any of its destructive temptations. 
Alas! my brethren, how loudly will the sufferings of the af- 
flicted members of Christ, the viciousness of the ignorant 
and the idle, and the meagre support bestowed upon that gos- 
pel which they profess to believe, cry out against the offerers 
of such idolatrous sacrifices to the pride of life, in the great 
day of eternity! And how sorely will many, who profess and 
call themselves Christians, then lament the unjustifiable sur- 
renders thus made to the pride and vanity of a corrupt heart, 
deluded with the form of godliness, shaking hands with the 
world, and crying, Lord, Lord, without doing the things 
which he says. 

In like manner, what has the Christian, the person who 
professes to entertain a godly sorrow for the sinfulness of his 
nature, with an humble hope of mercy through the righteous- 
ness of Ciiuist — what has such a person to do with any of 
those extravagances of dress and ornament which mark so 
clearly the sinful vanity of personal decoration? Do not 
Christians know that excess of apparel is expressly forbidden 
them, not only as unseemly for persons professing godliness, 
but as an abuse of means to be otherwise applied? Do they 
not know that it is actually glorying in their shame, a being 
vain of their ruin? For what is clothing of any kind but a 
defect occasioned by sin, in this way replaced by the divine 
mercy? Alas! for the precious time and bountiful means- 
wasted on tliis unworthy vanity, for the self idolatry it 
prompts, for the exclusion of all serious thought it produces, 
and for the crime it occasions, in order to compass its indul- 
gence! Alas! for the retribution to be awarded when the 
hungry, and the naked, and the houseless, shall claim from 
the common Father of all their 'share of this wasted super- 



INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 343 

fluity, and he shall demand it at their hands'to whom his provi- 
dence committed it as a talent to be improved to his glory! 

Hearken, my dear brethren, "There was a certain rich 
man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared 
sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named 
Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring 
to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's 
table. And it came to pass that the beggar died and was 
carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man 
also died and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes T 
being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus 
in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, 
have mercy on me; and send Lazarus, that he may dip the 
tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tor- 
mented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember 
that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good, things, and 
likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted and 
thou art tormented" — and learn from this impressive parable 
what the pomps and vanities of this world end in, and "be 
no longer faithless, but believing." 

And what can more deeply condemn the vain amusements 
of the world than the incitement they present, and the op- 
portunity they furnish, for the sinful indulgence of these' 
vicious gratifications. "Without a theatre for their display, 
the wasteful extravagance of entertainment, and unscriptural 
excess of adornment, would come to an end. Deprive the 
theatres, and ball rooms, and other debaucheries of the world, 
of the countenance of Christian parents and their families, 
they will soon be abandoned by the more orderly and moral 
of the non-professing part of the community, and finally by 
all but the dissolute and the profligate. 

Do not Christians, then, owe this much to the consistencv 
of their profession? Yes, they owe it to the safety of their own 
souls — to the souls of those for whom they have covenanted 
with God, and to good example in the world. Besides, did 
Christians hut reflect what causes and occasions of sin are 
furnished by all those sources of dissipation, in the sight of 
that pure and holy Being who condemns the idolatry of the 
heart, and the adultery of the eye, equally with the actual 
commission of the sin, surely none, who regard even the name 



344 THE LOVE OF THE WORLD 

of Christian, could again be prevailed on to enter the temple 
of vanity — to sacrifice to the Moloch of the world's idolatry 
and sensualit}' the sober joy and holy hope which cheers the 
heart, animates the life, and makes peaceful the death of the 
humble believer, who by faith "overcomes the world," "and 
lays hold on eternal life." 

III. Thirdlv, and to conclude: the considerations which are 
calculated to enforce the exhortation of my text upon the 
communicants of the Church, are, the quality of the things 
themselves, their connexion with our spiritual condition, and 
the personal undertaking of every professor of religion. 

The quality of worldly engagements and worldly delights 
is, necessarily, hostile to the spirit of religion; and the very 
name implies as much. "Were they not "of the world," in 
the bad sense of these words; were they neutral even, in re- 
gard to moral effect — as too many wish to think them — and 
not intrinsically opposed to the sobriety and watchfulness of 
a momentary existence connected with eternal retribution, 
so much pains never would have been taken by the wisdom 
of God, as we see is taken to warn mankind at large, and 
Christians in particular, against their dangerous effects. This 
consideration is of itself sufficient, my brethren, to enforce 
the self-denials to which communicants are pledged, and on 
which their salvation so absolutely depends. 

When we add to this the connexion of "the things that are in 
the world," with our spiritual condition, another consideration 
of deep interest to the Christian, and well calculated to fortify 
the soul against their ensnaring effects, is presented to our 
notice. 

For, however valued, however followed, however dearly 
purchased, by the thousands who give their souls in exchange, 
they are in themselves of no real worth to the most pressing 
want of a fallen sinner. They cannot give to God a ransom 
for their owners, nor redeem them from the power of the grave. 
Before sin entered into the world they found no place in it, and 
when sin shall be confined in the lake of fire they will be 
shut out from the blessed abode of the righteous. The happi- 
ness of heaven will have no connexion with those perishing 
gratifications which sin hath entailed on our mortal nature. 

This consideration, therefore, ought to fortify the believer 



INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD. 34:5 

against the seducing influence of their deceitful promises. In 
the present life they are, to the Christian, the trial of his 
faith and love; and his everlasting freedom from all their dis- 
quieting temptations depends on his overcoming them now. 
In the present life they form the test of his spiritual condition 
to the believer. As his desires determine to the world or to 
God, so is he earthly and sensual, or heavenly minded and 
spiritual. The communicant, therefore, who conforms to the 
world in the pursuits and indulgences of its idolatry, or who 
mingles with the giddy followers of its time-wasting, thought- 
excluding, soul-ensnaring dissipations, does thereby give most 
unhappy proof that the spirit of the world, and not the Spirit 
of Chkist, bears rule in his heart, and, consequently, that 
"the love of the Father is not in him." 

Above all, the personal undertaking of every professor of 
religion being the renunciation of the world in all those things 
which mark so clearly its alienation from God, this consider- 
ation should give force to all the others, and combine them 
into one commanding restraint of every inordinate and sinful 
desire of the honors and pleasures of the world. To the 
communicants of the Church, in particular, this consideration 
should be of the utmost weight. For they have not only by 
implication and as a consequence of their profession, re- 
nounced the world, but specifically at their baptism, and 
again in their confirmation, have renounced "the vain pomp 
and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same," 
as fully as they have renounced "the devil and all his works." 
This obligation they solemnly renew over the broken body 
and shed blood of their Saviour in the sacrament of his death, 
the highest and the holiest of all conceivable engagements. 
And may God grant that those who are this day to give this 
solemn pledge of amended life, may gladly "suffer the word 
of exhortation," and so "discern the Lord's body," as to put 
away from themselves and their families whatever can bring 
reproach on the name of Christ — scandal on his Church— 
and ruin on their own souls. 

Now, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holt 
Ghost, be ascribed the glory and praise due to the only liv- 
ing and true God, by all creatures, now and for ever more. 
Amen. 

[Vol. 2,— *23.] 



SEEMON XXIX. 



EELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 



2 Corinthians xiii. 5. 
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. 

Need I say to you, my brethren and hearers, that among 
those subjects of thought and reflection which occupy the 
anxieties of the present life, the consideration of our place in 
the divine favor, and of the ground on which it is entertained, 
is unspeakably the most important? — Surely this is not need- 
ed by any now before me. Yet it is ecpually sure, I appre- 
hend, that there are many present, by whom neither time or 
thought is given to this great interest, and to whom it must 
be profitable to be reminded of the one thing needful, and 
to be counselled and exhorted, that amid the business and 
the pleasures of the world, time should be taken to consider 
the worth of eternity, and to prove your expectations of its 
endless and unchangeable sanction, by the unerring standard 
of God's most holy and most merciful revelation to his crea- 
tures. Were it so, indeed, that we could not err, and err 
fatally, too, in our religious belief and practice, no occasion 
could have been found for the apostle to press this duty upon 
his converts, nor would it be necessary to repeat the exhor- 
tation continually to Christian people. But, as the danger 
was imminent in the beginning of Christianity, as experience 
proves that it has not lessened in the progress of the gospel, 
as corruptions have multiplied, and indifference has increased, 
so has it become a more imperious duty for Christians to in- 
stitute this examination and proof of their religious condi- 
tion, and according to the result to estimate their hope for 
hereafter. 

To deceive ourselves on this subject, is to be undone for 
ever, my hearers; and with such an alternative at stake, and 
with such effectual means to determine the point, the equity 
of our own hearts must decide, that indifference, even, to the 



3-iS RELIGIOUS EIA3HXATION. 

event, deserves to be thus undone. Let us, then, consider 
this momentous subject with the seriousness and attention it 
ought surely to command from every accountable being; and 
as the word of God shall warrant, be warned to repent and 
amend our ways, or encouraged to hope and persevere unto 
the end. To assist you herein, I shall point out what it is 
that we are to examine ourselves concerning — how we are to 
make this examination, and how to come at the proof or 
assurance that we are "in the faith." 

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove 
your own selves." 

I. First, what it is that we are to examine ourselves con- 
cerning. 

The words, "in the faith," refer us, undoubtedly, to some- 
thing definite and determined as the body of religious doc- 
trine and practice delivered to and received by all who pro- 
fess to embrace the gospel. This body of doctrine, accord- 
ingly, is called in Scripture, "the faith once delivered to the 
saints," ''the form of sound words," received from the apos- 
tles of Christ, and "the doctrine which is according to god- 
liness." The point to be examined into, therefore, is whe- 
ther we believe the doctrines and practise the duties of the 
Christian religion as taught ami delivered to the saints, or 
associated members of the Church of Christ, by his apostles. 
Tlie inquiry is not whether we are believers, in the sense of 
acknowledging the truth of the facts and doctrines of revela- 
tion; but whether the knowledge of those facts and doctrines 
lias brought us to Christ for the promises of God, made to 
the world through him. Nothing less than this will answer 
the strength and peculiarity of the expression, "in the faith," 
which can have no other safe or reasonable meaning than 
this — of being truly and vitally united to the faith, in a 
thankful reception of the gospel, and of living, or walking 
by faith, in eonformity with the example and commands of 
the author and finisher of our faith. 

This is certified to us both by the reason of the thing and 
by the use frequently made in the Scriptures of the word in, 
to denote condition or influence. Tims, when St. Paul ex- 
presses his wish "to be found in Christ," the meaning is, 
that he may be a partaker of the salvation procured by his 



RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 349 

undertaking for sinners; and when St. John tells us that he 
was "in the spirit" at a particular time, the meaning is, that 
he was then under the special influence of the Holy Ghost, 
and in like manner of the word as used in my text. 

Much of the true meaning and importance of the text, and 
consequently of the duty therein exhorted to, depends, also, 
upon the word the, as connected with the word faith. "The 
faith" does not mean a faith, or some faith, or a part of the 
faith, but is definite and precise, and directs and limits the 
inquiry to a known and specified subject. In confirmation 
of this, religion is never spoken of in the Scriptures as mul- 
tiform, that is, consistent with variety or variation of belief 
and obedience, but as a harmonious and agreeing system of 
faith and holiness, devised by the divine wisdom for the ben- 
efit of fallen sinners, and, as such, unchangeable. "There is 
one faith," says the inspired word; just as there is one body, 
or Church, to which this one faith is delivered, and in which 
it must be professed; one Lord, or head of that body, and one 
Spirit given to abide with the body for the union and life of 
all its true members. This is the faith which we are to ex- 
amine ourselves whether we are in; that is, whether we truly 
believe, profess, and practise the religion of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, as taught by his apostles, recorded in the Scriptures 
of our faith, and received and followed by the primitive 
Church. This is the duty to which we are exhorted in the 
text, and we are therefore exhorted to it because by this 
means only can we determine, satisfactorily, what our reli- 
gious condition really is, and what our dependence for here- 
after is actually worth. 

Let us, then, inquire, 

II. Secondly, how we are to make this examination. 

Religion, or being "in the faith," is not our birthright, my 
hearers. Ko man is born a believer. Yet, where the gospel 
has shed its happy light, all are brought into being with the 
means of becoming Christians — and hence the peculiar ex- 
pression of being "born again," used to denote the spiritual 
change which must be wrought in every practical sinner 
who would be and who is a Christian indeed. Religion, then, 
being a personal attainment, is to be examined into, and tried 
and determined by its proper evidences, in the same manner 



350 RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 

as any other attainable personal qualification. If we possess 
it, we must surely be able to show by what means we ob- 
tained it; and by bringing our religious condition, and the 
means made use of in its attainment, to the standard given 
in the Scriptures, we can be certified and assured as to the 
highest and most anxious concern which can engage our at- 
tention. To the Scriptures, then, let us bring this examina- 
tion, and let each determine his own case by its agreement 
or disagreement therewith. 

The persons spoken of in Scripture as being "in the faith," 
are described as having been brought by the preaching of 
the word to a just sense of their lost and undone condition, 
as sinners both by nature and practice — as having truly re- 
pented of and forsaken their former sinful courses — as hav- 
ing thankfully embraced the mercy offered them, through 
the atonement of the cross — as being baptized in acknowledg- 
ment of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and of their 
dedicating themselves to his service — and, as living answer- 
able to his laws and example in all holiness and righteous- 
ness of life and conversation — "Continuing steadfast in the 
apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread 
and in prayers;" as it is briefly expressed of the first Chris- 
tians in the Scriptures, to denote their union and constancy 
in the faith. 

Now, as there is but one faith, and one strait and narrow 
way to enter into life, all that they were then, must be found 
in ns now, my brethren and hearers, if we would entertain a 
good hope of the same reward which animated them, to 
which they waded through flames and blood, and to which 
we are more mercifully called without a privation or a suf- 
fering to encounter. Oli! how should it deepen our thank- 
fulness, that Christ's yoke is indeed made easy and his bur- 
den light to us, compared with what it was to them; and 
how should we fear to separate from this holy fellowship, and 
strive to improve our distinguishing mercies, and walk wor- 
thy of his goodness "who hath caused the lines to fall unto 
us in pleasant places, and hath given us a goodly heritage." 

To be "in the faith," then, according to the testimony of 
Scripture, it is requisite that believers in the truth of revela- 
tion should be regenerated in bapl ism and spiritually renewed 



RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. '351 

hj the Holt Ghost; that they should cease from sin, ear- 
nestly repenting of it, as the cause of Goo's wrath and the 
d-uin of their souls, and be converted from the love and prac- 
tice of its wickedness; that they should openly embrace the 
-gospel as the truth of God for their salvation; that they should 
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son 
of God, their only Saviour and their Judge — that they should 
-confess him before men as the Lord their righteousness, walk- 
ing in all the commandments and ordinances of his holy 
laws, in the spirit of love towards each other, and of peace 
.and good will towards all mankind. This is the standard to 
which to bring this all-important examination of ourselves; 
for only as our lives are in agreement with what the Scrip- 
tures plainly teach, can there be any rational hope of the 
meixrv therein revealed and of the blessings therein promised. 

III. Thirdly, I am to point out to you how to come at the 
.proof or assurance that we are "in the faith:" 

"Prove your own selves," says the apostle. 

As religion is not an abstract speculation of the mind, but 
Si living, active principle of faith and holiness, the proof that 
it presides over and rules the life, must .always be derived 
from its visible effects. As the tree is known by its fruit, so 
is the Christian known by his conversation in the world. This 
is a divine maxim, and consequently a safe one; yet it re- 
quires to be guarded against in the abuse which may be and 
is made of it, to the entire unsettling of those distinctive 
marks which the Scriptures instruct us to build our assurance 
upon. Because the proof of our spiritual state being derived 
from the two-fold testimony of external condition and inter- 
nal consciousness, it is from the agreement of both these, and 
not of either singly, with the word of God, that Scriptural 
.assurance is to be entertained. In the nature of things, ex- 
ternal condition must be the ground of, or rather must pre- 
cede, internal consciousness; that is, we must first be con- 
formed to what the gospel requires of outward observance, 
before we can be rightly entitled to the comfort and assu- 
rance which the gospel promises to believers. This is so 
very plain and undeniable, that it is wonderful and greatly 
to be lamented it should be overlooked or disregarded bv 



352 KELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 

numbers who, I doubt not, are truly desirous to honor God 
in their lives. 

Again: As every effect flows from its particular cause, as 
well in spiritual as in natural things, it is the duty of the 
Christian to be as careful of the commanded means as he is 
solicitous of the promised end; all the external appointments 
of religion, therefore, (the Church, the ministry, the word, 
and the sacraments,) being from God, are, as such, to be rev- 
erenced and observed by us. And as they are his means to 
the production of an end in us and for our benefit, we can 
have no Scriptural ground to expect the end separate from 
the means. It is not sufficient, then, my brethren and hear- 
ers, to look to the conversation alone in order to prove our 
spiritual state. Our title to those promises of divine assist- 
ance on which all spiritual attainment by us does wholly de- 
pend, must first be proved by its agreement with the re- 
quirements of Scripture, and the conversation or life also 
agreeing therewith, and not otherwise. ~We may, then, joy- 
fully and securely take to ourselves all the comfort which 
the witness of the Spirit of God with our spirits, that we are 
the children of God, can give. 

Once more: From the nature of religion as a moral attain- 
ment and a reasonable service, the satisfaction and enjoyment 
we are entitled to look for under its influence must always 
be subsequent to its duties — must flow from them, and be 
proportioned to the faithfulness with which they are per- 
formed. Christian joy and rejoicing, therefore, is not the 
impulse of mere feeling stirred into occasional excitement, 
but it is the rational approval of the heart, filled with hope 
from the consciousness of duty performed through love to 
God. This was St. Paul's ground of rejoicing; and no Chris- 
tian, I should think, need want a better or a different one — 
•■Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience," says 
he, "that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our 
conversation in the world." And St. John teaches, that "if 
our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards 
God." And in like manner of assurance that we are "in the 
faith," that is, are true believers and sincere Christians. This 
must always be derived from its proper proofs — carefully 
guarding against any assumption of condition which has not 



RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 353 

the joint warrant of the word of God and of our own con- 
science, as the instrument by which the Holy Spirit applies 
that word to our edification and comfort. 

Having thus explained the text, and in such wise, I trust, 
that all present are competent to apply it to their own per- 
sonal condition as probationers for eternity, I proceed now 
to enforce this duty by the considerations proper to its su- 
preme importance. 

It is very reasonable to suppose, I think, that the same 
Scriptures which have proposed to us religion as our duty, 
and happiness as its end and reward, have also taught us 
how to judge and determine, satisfactorily, when we are in 
the way that leads to the truth of the one and the certainty 
of the other. 

If this is so, must it not be the most wilful rejection of 
light and knowledge, to rest our religious condition, and by 
certain consequence, our eternal state, on a foundation which 
we have not examined by the standard of God's holy word? 
And yet this is the case with all who are careless and uncon- 
cerned on the subject of religion. For it is not that such 
persons do reject God and his word — the Lord Jesus Christ 
and his salvation. No — and I appeal to their hearts at this 
moment that they do not. But they permit the god of this 
world to delude them with hopes of mercy through Christ, 
or with intentions of future repentance, and are gradually 
becoming hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Now, 
what is there in the reach of man to withstand this delusion, 
but serious examination? And surely if any thing can 
prompt them to engage in it, it must be the consideration, 
that only as we are united to Christ by a living faith, and 
continue therein, is there hope towards God for a fallen sinner. 

Again: As we are intelligent beings and free agents, God 
is declared in Scripture to deal with us as such. Religion, 
then, is concerned with our reason and our wills, with our 
hopes and our fears. Hence, the doctrines revealed in the 
gospel, the system of its duties, the inducements to practise 
them, and the sanctions of its commands, are all addressed 
to those faculties and affections. 

But if we permit our reason to be blinded by conclusions, 
unsupported by the word of God, and our affections to be 



854 



RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 



exclusively engaged with the world and its occupations, all 
religious attainment is forcibly excluded, and the very facul- 
ties which God hath given for the noblest purposes are 
squandered upon pursuits which have no permanency' — ■ 
which cannot satisfy the soul or give relief in the day of 
trouble and anguish — which cannot quiet the conscience, 
make our peace with God, or still the fears and allay the 
terrors of a dying bed. Yet the consideration that this awaits 
us all, might strip the mask from these vanities and restore 
an immortal being to the true purpose of his creation and 
redemption — to his true happiness — to his God. And what 
more likely to effect this than the serious examination of the 
conditions on which God hath suspended the rewards and 
the punishments of eternity? 

Once more: Every man, in proportion to his understand- 
ing, perceives that he is bound by his very nature to acknow- 
ledge and obey the laws of God; and if a blessing is promised 
to such obedience, the same understanding which enables 
him to apprehend the condition and the promise, shows him, 
also, on an examination of his conduct, what expectation he 
has of attaining the promised blessing. No man, therefore, 
.under the light of the gospel, can plead any other than a 
wilful, and, as such, an inexcusable, ignorance. The dignity 
of the author of our salvation, the unspeakable worth of eter- 
nity, and the reason of your own minds, my dear hearers, 
all unite in pressing upon your hearts the exhortation of my 
text. 

Let not, then, that evil spirit which has gone forth into the 
world, and instilled the ruinous delusion into the hearts of 
men, that the precious benefits of the death of Christ may 
be obtained without conforming to the requirements of the 
gospel, make vain this exhortation to you. But take your 
Bibles and your lives into solemn retirement, and there ex- 
amine what your hope now is, whereon it is founded, and 
what it will be in the day of death and judgment if you con- 
tinue as you are — unconverted — impenitent — unholy. "Ex- 
amine yourselves," then, "whether ye be in the faith." Seize 
the precious moments of God's sparing mercy, to repent and 
turn from the error of your ways. Come to that merciful 
Saviour who stands ready to receive the true penitent; and, 



RELIGIOUS EXAMINATION. 355 

in newness of life, wait upon God in humble prayer, for the 
blessing of his love shed abroad in your heart by the Holy 
Ghost, and for the hope that maketh not ashamed, because 
full of immortality. 

Upon you, my Christian brethren, I must also press the 
exhortation of my text. You are "in the faith," indeed, by 
an open profession of religion, and have not, I trust, to "lay 
again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of 
faith towards God." But for you it is safe, while to me it is 
not grievous, to remind you, that the more diligent and faith- 
ful you are in examining- yourselves, the more will your light 
shine and your religious comforts increase. The world is an 
encroaching thing, my dear brethren, and demands continual 
watchfulness to withstand the blandishment of its tempta- 
tions. Our own hearts are treacherous, and we have great 
cause to fear lest we decline into the cold formality of heart- 
less habit, the living death of religion without power, with- 
out the felt influence of the love of Christ constraining us to 
give him all' our praise, all our duty, as our God and Saviour. 
To avoid this too ready and too common evil, frequent and 
faithful self-examination whether our lives are answerable to 
<our holy profession, and that to the revealed directions of the 
word of God, is the best safe-guard. It compels the Chris- 
tian to keep a record, as it were, of his very thoughts, and 
thus enables him to bring to the mercy seat for pardon and 
grace, his failures in duty, his sinful inclinations, his evil 
tempers — his weaknesses of every kind — before they strength- 
en into habit. 

To retire frequently with God to commune with our own 
heart, begets a holy watchfulness against sin, a lively desire 
for growth in grace, and increases strength by the frequency 
and fervency of prayer; for God hath so appointed, that "to 
him that hath shall be given." More especially in the near 
approach of the solemn celebration of our Saviour's Passion 
is it both requisite and profitable that we enter faithfully 
upon this examination of ourselves; that we may present to 
God, through his merits, a sincere offering, and, with hearts 
truly penitent for all our failures towards him, and truly de- 
sirous of the succor and help of his Holt Spirit, may be re- 
plenished with the comfort of his forgiveness, and enriched 



356 EELIGIOTTS EXAMINATION. 

with the treasure of his heavenly grace, to love him more 
and serve him better for the time to come. 

It is a feast of love, my brethren. Let us, therefore, "ex- 
amine and prove our own selves," that love may abound to- 
wards God and towards each other, and blessing from on 
high be poured out upon us and upon all the Israel of God. 

Now, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holt 
Ghost, be glory, now and for ever. 






SEEMON XXX. 

NON-CONFORMITY WITH THE WORLD. 



Romans xii. 2, first clause. 
v 

And be not conformed to this world. 

It appears to have been St. Paul's method, in writing to 
the Churches, to lay down, in the first place, the doctrines 
of Christianity, and from them to draw those obligations to 
practical duty which all who profess to believe the gospel 
are bound to observe and to carry out into their daily con- 
versation in the world. Upon this principle all his epistles 
— particularly that to the Romans — are constructed. And 
hereby we are taught, my brethren, to consider carefully the 
close connexion between the doctrines and the duties of our 
religion-— to perceive the reasonableness of that service which 
God requires at our hands, and to understand that the know- 
ledge of divine things communicated to us and the divine 
grace conferred upon us by the gospel, are no otherwise pro- 
fitable than as they are rightly applied and improved. 

Though the command of God is abundantly sufficient to 
make every rational being feel the obligation and render the 
duty of obedience, yet it is not to authority alone that obedi- 
ence is to be referred. In things moral and spiritual, the 
connexion of the required duty with something previously 
done and communicated on the part of the Almighty God, 
and also with consequences subsequently to affect ourselves, 
enters very deeply into the grounds of Christian obligation, 
and enhances, even infinitely, the indispensable duty of 
Christian obedience. Hence, I think, may be shown the 
great error of referring the substance of religion either to the 
exuberance of internal feeling, or to the meagreness of exter- 
nal morality. Hence, also, Christians might be instructed 
how very important it is, that serious consideration of the 
doctrines of Christianity — of the intimate connexion of re- 
vealed religion with the actual condition of fallen creatures, 



35 8 NON-CONFORMITY "WITH THE WORLD. 

— should form the basis on which the gospel is embraced 
and followed, as the light of life — as the only ground of hope 
and exertion to sinners. By no other means now given us,, 
it appears to me, can that union of the understanding and 
affections be produced which constitutes a reasonable service,, 
■worthy to be presented to the great Moral Governor of the 
Universe. 

Upon this principle, I think, it is evident that St. Paul 
constructed the epistle from which my text is taken. He- 
laid before the church in Rome the grounds on which their 
duty as redeemed creatures rested; he then pointed out the 
obligations they had come under as professed believers. He 
informed their understandings before he appealed to their 
hearts. And it was not until he had showed them the breadth 
and the length, and the height and the depth, of God's rich 
redeeming love, that lie "besought them, by the mercies of 
God, to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, accepta- 
ble to God, and not to be conformed to this world, as the 
reasonable service" as well as commanded duty of Christian 
believers. 

On this ground, therefore, my brethren, do I wish you to 
meet the exhortation of my text, as that on which alone you 
can either realize its importance, feel its obligation, or fulfil 
its requirements. And it is a most affecting circumstance, 
and beyond all others touching to the reelings, that in the 
boundary of this world, the being is not found who can stand 
excused from the duty because he is not included in the con- 
sideration upon which it is required. All, without exception, 
are partakers of the mercies of God; and those mercies, would 
men but hear their voice, point them to God — to learn his 
will, to give themselves without reserve to his holy service, 
and to hope for his everlasting favor. To Christians, in par- 
ticular, the mercies of God speak a language addressed di- 
rectly to the heart, in the gift of Jesus Christ, the source of 
all present and the pledge of all future blessings. To them, 
an appeal in the name of him who hath "loved us, and washed 
us from our sins in his own blood," can surely never be in 
vain. To them an exhortation to promote his honor and ad- 
vance his kingdom in the world, grounded on the mighty 
benefits conferred on them by him "who hath reconciled us 



N0N-C0NE0KMITY WITH THE WOKLD. 35$ 

to God" by his death, must come with the most winning 
power. If the heart can feel, it must be touched — if the 
judgment can understand, it must approve; and both uniting, 
must constrain every sincere believer, every true disciple of 
the Lord Jesus, to give himself without reserve to this pri- 
mary duty of separation from the world, as the distinguish- 
ing mark of that "peculiar people," whom his master came 
"to purify unto himself," that he might present them without 
spot to God, as inheritors of eternal glory. 

As partakers,, then, of the' manifold grace of God, I be- 
seech you, my brethren, to take this distinctive and all-im- 
j)ortant religious duty to your most serious consideration, and 
that you may be enabled to do so with advantage, I will now 
endeavor to explain to you, 

First, what we are to understand by the words "this 
world," made use of in the text. 

Secondly, what constitutes conformity to, or with, this 
world; and, then, 

Conclude with an enforcement of the duty, from the obli*- 
gations we have come under as professing Christians. 
"And be not conformed to this world." 
I. First, I am to explain what we are to understand by the 
words "this world " made use of in the text. 

In the lanuguage of Scripture, the phrase "this world" is 
used in two significations — the one denoting the material 
world, or frame of created things, the other denoting the 
moral world, or the condition of mankind as respects virtue 
or vice. In the present instance, therefore, the words "this 
world" will signify the corrupt principles, maxims, fashions, 
customs, and manners of the world. With these the Christian 
is exhorted to have no conformity, fellowship, or agreement. 
Whatever of difficulty, then, attends this subject as a prac- 
tical question, there can be none either as to the meaning of 
the phrase, or as to the obligation of the duty enforced. Yet 
both observation and experience teach us, my brethren, that 
there is great, and, I fear, increasing difficulty in meeting 
the requirement of my text as it ought to be met by those 
who profess and call themselves Christians. But as mere 
difficulty forms no excuse to the Christian for the neglect of 
his duty, it behooves us all rather to consider with care where- 



360 NON-CONFORMITY WITH THE WORLD. 

in the difficulty really consists, that we may set ourselves to 
overcome it with the greater diligence. 

Now this is found partly in ourselves, and partly in the 
existing state of the Christian world. From the corruption 
of our nature we are continually disposed to lower the obli- 
gations of religion, and to become remiss in that watchfulness, 
self-denial, and faithfulness, which alone can ensure success 
in working out our everlasting salvation. Hence, as. we de- 
cline from commanded duty, we decline also from religious 
attainment, for it is "to him that hath' ; that more "is given;" 
and thus Christians settle down into a lukewarm state of re- 
ligion, and content themselves with the poor and low quali- 
fication that they are free from the outbreaking wickedness 
of the dissolute and the profligate. But as this is only the 
negative side of religion, as it is no more than what the 
morality of the world can compass — what unbelievers fre- 
quently manifest — its inevitable tendency is to assimilate 
Christians with the world, not to separate them from it; to 
obscure and eventually to obliterate that line of distinction 
which separates Christ from Belial, and to deaden exertion 
for the attainment of those heavenly tempers and holy dis- 
positions which are indispensable to the enjoyment of God in 

g lor J- 

In the existing state of the Christian world, also, is this 

difficulty not only found, but increased. Corrupt departure 
from the spirit of religion, in the neglect of primary and fun- 
damental duties, never stops short of the entire destruction 
of the religious principle. "From him that hath not shall be 
taken away even that which he seemeth to have." And 
though the unclean spirit may have been cast out, yet, if at 
an}' time his former residence become empty — if the light of 
Christian profession be not kept burning with the oil of prayer 
and watchfulness — he returns with a reinforcement of other 
yet more wicked spirits, and "the last state of that man is 
worse than the first." 

Non-conformity with the world requiring a line to be drawn, 
on one side of which the Christian is bound to keep, as the 
world assimilates to the gospel through the civilizing influ- 
ence of Christian truth, or as the gospel is assimilated to the 
world through the loose conversation of those who profess to 



NON-CONFOKMITT WITH THE WOULD. 361 

believe it, in either case the line is trodden out, and the dif- 
ficulty to draw it afresh is increased. The power of habit, 
the influence of example, the sanction of numbers supporting- 
each other, have a direct tendency to lower the standard of 
religious duty, to corrupt the purity of religion, and to tempt 
Christians to mingle in those unhallowed scenes where the 
votaries of the world delight to revel, and where vice is ren- 
dered more seductive and dangerous by being stripped of its 
grossness. 

When the apostle penned the words of my text, .the Chris- 
tian convert had but to look around him, and, in the revolt- 
ing obscenity of heathen manners, to mark out distinctly that 
world to which he was not to be conformed. But in the pre- 
sent day, when Christianity has become national, and divis- 
ions in religion have set up opposite standards of faith and 
morals — when all claim the Christian name, and the form of 
godliness has eat out the power thereof — a harder task awaits 
the person who would indeed fulfil the duty enjoined by my 
text, and draw the line betwixt himself and the world. 

Tet, my dear brethren, it must be drawn, and it must be 
observed. If we would enjoy the peace of God upon earth, 
or the presence of God in heaven, we must make our calling 
and election sure, by a clear and distinct separation from the 
world — from its evil ways, and unprofitable pursuits. And 
as this is our indispensable duty, so, by the goodness of God, 
every Christian is furnished with such plain directions, and 
with such effectual help, as, if faithfully followed, will insure 
success. As we have the same world to contend with, so 
have we the same grace and truth to strengthen and direct 
us -which the early Christians had. And though the world 
has changed the type of its viciousness, through the know- 
ledge of Christian doctrine, it is still the world, and, as such, 
is to be watched against, and the snare of its temptations 
avoided. 

In order, then, to surmount this difficulty, and enable you, 
my brethren, to draw the line between the world and religion, 
let us inquire, 

II. Secondly, what constitutes conformity to, or with, "this 
world." 

In order to answer this question aright, we must bear in 
[Vol. 2,— *24.] 



362 XON-COXFORMITY WITH THE WORLD. 

mincl in what sense the words are here used by the apostle, 
And as he ha3 been shown to apply them exclusively to the- 
corrupt, sinful, and irreligious part of mankind, we are fur- 
nished with a safe rule to direct our judgment. 

Conformity with this world, therefore, consists in agree- 
ment and participation with it, in those pursuits and pratices- 
which are either directly or indirectly opposed to the purity 
and holiness of the gospel, and to the interests of our own 
souls, or the souls of others. 

If this definition be correct, which I conceive it to be, it 
will follow that in those things which are expressly command- 
ed or forbidden by the law of God, the neglect or violation of 
which constitutes actual sin, Christians, as such, cannot be 
conformed to this world; because the habit of wilful violation 
of the law of Goo vacates the Christian character, and trans- 
fers all who are thus guilty to the side of the world. They 
are "not of God;-' and the exhortation to such, must be dif- 
ferent from that' in the text — it must be to repent and turn 
to God. 

It also follows, that the crime of conformity to this world 
cannot be charged against Christians, because they are found 
pursuing the same callings, occupations, and professions 
which are also followed by the people of the world. A Chris- 
tian magistrate, a Christian lawyer, a Christian merchant, 
farmer, tradesman, or mechanic, is not, therefore, conformed 
to the world, because the great majorit}' which follow those 
callings are irreligious men; the callings themselves are law- 
ful and necessary to maintain the state of the world; and well 
were it for the world, and for its business, were they more 
followed by religious characters. 

Now, though this is undoubtedly true, yet if Christians 
follow their respective callings upon the same principles, 
with the same motives, and to the same ends, with the men 
of the world — if their Christian profession does not in some 
discernible point display its influence — as no distinction can 
be perceived, no difference can be made. The line is not drawn 
— they must be classed with the followers of this world. 

The inquiry being thus narrowed within proper limits, we 
are instructed that the conformity with this world, against 
which Christians are exhorted, is to be sought for, chiefly, in 



NON-CONFORMITY WITH THE WORLD. 363 

the accommodations, indulgences, and gratifications with 
which the present life is provided by the goodness of God. 
But as the rational and thankful enjoyment of heaven's mer- 
cies can never be charged with guilt, it must be in the excess 
or abuse of them that the world transgresses, and in which 
the Christian is exhorted not to be conformed to its example. 

Thus is the inquiry brought to a point, my brethren, and 
to such a point as puts within the reach of every serious 
Christian, the ready determination of this very and increas- 
ingly important subject. Whatever exceeds the measure of 
temperance in enjoyment, whatever amounts to extravagance 
in self-indulgence, whatever is inordinate in the desire or 
pursuit — as in all these respects, what is here styled "this 
world" plainly and visibly transgresses against the voice of 
reason and religion, therefore, the Christian is exhorted to 
pursue a different course, and one more conformable to his 
high and heavenly calling — to his holy profession. 

That this method of deciding between conformity and non- 
conformity with the world is amply sufficient for all practical 
purposes, will be evident from an example. In the lawful 
endeavor to better his condition in the world, and provide 
for the wants and accommodations of the present life, the 
gospel enjoins upon the Christian, industry, care, and dili- 
gence. But if, in the performance of this necessary duty, 
his affections become filled with the love of money, either 
for its own sake, or through desire of the indulgences of 
which it is the ready minister — hardening his heart and 
closing his hand against the poor and needy, or tempting 
him to unrighteous gain through extortion and fraud, for the 
gratification of sensual indulgence — the use degenerates into 
the abuse; the "love of the world and of the things that are 
in it," supersedes "the love of the Father," and conformity 
with the course of its idolatry and folly marks him in the 
number of those who, being unfaithful in the unrighteous 
mammon, shall not be entrusted with the true riches. In 
like manner, my brethren, of every duty relative to our 
wordly condition, and of every enjoyment permitted us in it. 
If the pursuit of it interferes with the higher duties we owe 
to God and our neighbor, or the indulgence in it endangers 
the interests of our immortal souls, it amounts to that sinful 






36i NON-CONFORHITY WITH THE WORLD. 

conformity to this world against which we are exhorted in 
the words of my text. The Christian's charter as to the 
things of the world is liberal and bountiful — "God giveth us 
all things richly to enjoy." But as they are only shadows 
of better things, types of a better and more enduring sub- 
stance, and, as such, a part of our trial, the Christian is 
affectionately exhorted "to use this world as not abusing it — 
to make to himself friends of the mammon of unrighteous- 
ness," in order to ensure the true riches. 

Doubtless it has been the secret wish of many besides my- 
self, that the Scriptures had been so framed as to enumerate 
and point out the various details which are embraced in the 
general principles therein laid down for our direction. Par- 
ticularly in the case under consideration are we disposed to 
wish that the apostle had minutely described the component 
parts of this wide extended and growing corruption of the 
gospel. But it is a weak, though, I trust, not a wicked wish, 
ray brethren. Sufficient is done for us, if we would only 
make that honest application of divine counsel which its im- 
portance calls for. But, alas! "we come not to the light, lest 
our deeds should be reproved." The world, indeed, is mighty, 
its temptations powerful, and its rewards enticing; but it 
passeth away, and no place shall be found for it. Let the 
Christian, then, look beyond. Let him direct the eye of 
faith to an incorruptible inheritance of glory made ready for 
every good and faithful servant. Thus shall the temptations 
of the world lose their power, and the counsel of God's holy 
word be sufficient to guide him through their seducing van- 
ities, to keep him from conformity with its unhallowed 
ways, and to bring him in triumph to everlasting habitations 
of never-ending felicity. 

As we can thus derive from the Scriptures what is amply 
sufficient to instruct us on the duty of non-conformity with 
the world, so are we also furnished with means to draw that 
line of separation between the world and religion, which 
must not be passed over if we would retain our Christian 
character. And here, my brethren, as the main difficulty of 
the present times arises from the gaieties and amusements of 
the world, I shall confine myself to them. The question, 
then, is: How far can the Christian partake of them? To this 



NON- CONFORMITY WITH THE WORLD. 365 

I answer, In so far as they are not in themselves sinful, or 
have no tendency to lead to sin in others, the Christian can 
freely partake of them: beyond this he cannot go. But ano- 
ther question arises. Things in themselves innocent become 
criminal by excess. Can the Christian partake of what is 
innocent, and leave the excess to the world? To this I an- 
swer, No: the Christian cannot consistently countenance that, 
over the excess and abuse of which he has no control. But, 
not to multiply examples, as the gaieties and amusements 
contended for all savor of extravagance and dissipation, it is 
but to inquire whence they sprung and by whom they are 
delighted in and followed, to put to flight the sophistry that 
would plead for them as becoming among Christians. Are 
they of Heathen or of Christian origin? Are they of Cod or 
of the world? Do the godly or the ungodly delight in and 
follow them? And as the answer shall in truth be, so let the 
line be drawn by every serious Christian, and, when drawn, 
observed. For by what other name than "conformity with, 
this world" can it be called, when -professing Christians are 
found partaking of the revelings, banquetings, and abomina- 
ble idolatries, which the profane and irreligious follow and 
delight in? Is it by such a use of the mercies of God that 
they "present their bodies to him as a living sacrifice, holy 
and acceptable?" Or is it not rather "yielding their mem- 
bers, as instruments of unrighteousness, unto sin?" Upon the 
same principle may the line be drawn in all other cases, the 
excess in which is sinful. And if this shall be faithfully 
done by professing Christians, a great reproach will be rolled, 
away from the religion of the gospel, and the ungodly (this 
world) the sooner be ashamed of their frivolous and sinful 
dissipations. 

I come now to conclude with an enforcement of the duty 
from the obligations w T e come under as professing Christians. 

And, here, my brethren, while I feel grieved that an en- 
forcement of this duty should be so universally necessary, 
and particularly grieved, that so many who call themselves 
Episcopalians should stand in need of edification on this 
point, I am happy that no just view of the religion we pro- 
fess gives any countenance or support to this error. 

This is evidenced by the whole tenor of the gospel. As 



366 NON-C0NE0EHITY 'WITH THE WOELD. 

"Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might de- 
liver us from this present evil world," so separation from the 
world, dedication to the service of God, and obedience unto 
life, are the conditions on which the promises of God are 
made to us. "Wherefore, come out from among them and 
be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean 
thing, and I will receive jou, and I will be a father unto you, 
and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God 
Almighty." 

As this is evidenced by the whole tenor of the gospel, so 
is it confirmed by the entire structure of our faith and form 
of professing it. Of this a more striking illustration cannot 
be given than is afforded in that solemn sacrament, which is 
the commencement of the Christian life, and whereby alone 
we are taken out of the world and adopted into the family of 
God. As this divine institution is the seal of our regenera- 
tion, or renewal of the Holt Ghost, all religious instruction, 
exhortation, and endeavor is grafted upon it, nor is it possi- 
ble to present a Scriptural hope to a fallen creature, which is 
not fuunded on the promises then made, and the obligations 
then undertaken. Would to God that all those who have 
received its seal would but consider more seriously the high 
responsibilities they have come under, the grace they are 
slighting, and the judgment they are in hourly danger of 
encountering! 

Now I take upon me to say, that the most prominent ob- 
ligation undertaken at our baptism, is, non-conformity with 
the world. "Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works, 
the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous de- 
sires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that 
thou wilt not follow nor be led by them?" "I renounce them 
all," says the applicant for baptism, whether adult or infant. 
"I renounce the devil," as the god of this world. "I renounce 
the world" itself, in the lust of the eyes and the pride of life; 
and "I renounce the sinful desires of the flesh," in those gra- 
tifications which are earthly, sensual, and devilish. What 
shall we say, then, to these things, my brethren? How shall 
baptized persons make void their own solemn contract with 
Almighty God? How shall professing Christians escape from 
their repeatedly ratified renunciation of the world over the 



NON-CONFOKMITY WITH THE WOKLD. 367 

broken body and shed blood of their Redeemer and Saviour? 
!My baptized hearers, there is no escape from this obligation. 
My professing brethren, there is no escape from this duty 
but at the peril of your immortal souls. You have put your 
hand to the plough, and must not look back. "Holiness to 
the Loud" is stamped upon every baptized forehead with the 
seal of the Spirit. Wash not out the sacred mark with the 
pollutions of the world! Rather, rather, renew and refresh 
the fading impression in that atoning blood which cleanseth 
from all sin; and be entreated by the mercies of God "that 
ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, accej)table 
unto God, which is your reasonable service; and be not con- 
formed to this world." 

In a very particular manner is this subject, and the duties 
which grow out of it, pressed upon the most serious at- 
tention of those who have this day publicly taken >upon them- 
selves and renewed with God their baptismal engagements 
in the rite of confirmation. Having solemnly, with their 
own mouth and consent, and openly before the Church, re- 
nounced the world, the flesh, and the devil,* they can no 
longer be seen in the idol's temple without a surrender of 
every thing that marks either the sacredness or the consist- 
ency of a Christian profession, and without incurring the far 
more fearful risk of grieving the Holy Spirit, and quenching 
his good motions in their hearts, to the decay and downfall 
of the religious principle, to the destruction of that good hope 
which the gospel imparts to the sincere and faithful, and to 
the substitution of that miserable delusion, of a form of god- 
liness without the power thereof, under which so many, who 
will be the friends of the world, are deceiving their own souls. 
But, my brethren, who have this day witnessed a good con- 
fession, keep in mind to what you are now pledged, that you 
may adorn your Christian profession; for only by enduring 
to the end can you reap the reward laid up for you in the 
heavenly kingdom of your Saviour, who warns you — "If any 
man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." You 
must, indeed, go back to your respective callings in the 
world; you must meet the temptations incident to your state 
of trial. But you go back armed against their power, and 
furnished to resist their seductions, with the promises of God 



368 NON-CONFORHITY WITH THE WORLD. 

renewed, and the help of the Holt Spirit' pledged, and the 
aid and countenance, and the counsel and the prayers, of the 
people of God, engaged for your encouragement and support. 
Above all, your Redeemer takes you by the hand and bids 
you look to his example, and thence learn how to overcome 
the world; and to strengthen you against its most powerful 
snares, he tells you to "be faithful unto death, and he will 
give you a crown of life." 

• - 















SERMON XXXI, 






PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 



: 



Matthew xxv. 14—30. 



For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who* 
called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one 

1 he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man ac- 
cording to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he 
that had received the five talents, went and traded with the same, and made 
them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also 

, gaiaed other two. But he that had received one, went and digged in the 
earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants 
cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents, 
came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me 
five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. His lord 
said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been 
faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter 
thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came, 
and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained 
two other talents besides them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and 
faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee 
ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which 
had received the one talent came, and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art 
a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou 
hast not strewed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: 
lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, 
Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed 
not, and gather where I have not strewed: thou oughtest therefore to have 
put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have re- 
ceived mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give 
it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be 
given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken 
away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into- 
outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

This is a long text, my friends, but I am very sure that 
none but inspired wisdom could say so much in as few words. 
Were it proper to speak absolutely and without qualification 
of the importance to us of different passages in the Holy 
Scriptures. I should not hesitate to pronounce that one which 
I have just read, of more value than any other. But as it 



370 PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 

would be presumptuous to give an unqualified preference to 
a part, where all is of vital interest and unspeakable value, 
I will only say this, that for practical use and general appli- 
cation it is more happily and wisely adapted than any other 
single passage in the word of God. 

The mysterious doctrines of our religion, by which I mean 
those which are above our reason, and derive their value and 
importance to us from their Author, and from their intimate 
connexion with the whole plan of redemption — such as the 
doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the second person 
in that ineffable union, the resurrection of the body, the ope- 
ration of divine grace in our hearts, with many others that 
might be named — deserve all the attention which Christians 
can give them, and are to be received and believed, simply 
on the authority of the Revealer. The preceptive parts of 
Christianity, also, being consonant to the highest reason, and 
the purest morality, and productive of all the happiness mor- 
tals can attain to, demand, on the ground both of duty and 
of interest, the most hearty and diligent observance. Yet 
they nevertheless want that familiar application to each one's 
personal concerns, that concentration, if I may so speak, of all 
that both doctrine and precept lead to, which we find in the 
parable of the talents. So lively and forcible is the lesson 
therein contained, that no one can read it attentively, with- 
out feeling the immediate bearing it has upon himself, as an 
accountable creature; without perceiving, at a glance, as it 
were, the sum and substance of the religion of the gospel, 
and the exceeding £oodness of God our Saviour in furnish- 
ing accountable creatures for that judgment, whose equitable 
rule is manifested in the parable, by example. 

The great purpose of the present life, and the object of 
public instruction from the pulpit, being to awaken men to 
the care of their souls, and to prepare them for another and 
a better, to that end I shall consider the parable in my text, 
not in a minute subdivision of the doctrines, but as a general 
fund of instruction and exhortation. 

By the word "talent" we are not to understand any one 
particular qualification or advantage, either temporal or spir- 
itual, either of mind, body, or estate; but, whatever in the 
present life can be applied to promote the glory of God, and 



PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 371 

the good of our fellow creatures. This is the best practical 
explanation of the word which I can give you; the most com- 
prehensive in its application; the most consonant with the 
duties arising from the unequal condition of this life, whicli 
it is one great object of Christianity to equalize; and the one 
which agrees the most perfectly with the equity of that judg- 
ment, in which we shall all soon have to meet our God. This, 
my friends, is what gives to this passage of Scripture its pe- 
culiar force and impression. Do what we will, we can escape 
from the fairness and reasonableness of its application no 
otherwise, than by putting away from us every religious con- 
sideration, and desperately shutting our eyes, and closing 
our ears, and hardening our hearts, against the united testi- 
mony of revelation and conscience. 

Another remark, more applicable to this parable, perhaps, 
than to any which our Lokd put forth, and well worthy of 
your notice, is this — there is in it no difficulty of interpreta- 
tion. The moral is not hid in the depth of the allusion, nor 
can an erroneous mystical meaning be drawn from it. It 
comes home to the every day business of human life; sets be- 
fore us, in a manner not to be mistaken, one grand and lead- 
ing principle for the regulation of conduct, embracing every 
possible condition in this our probationary state; and presents 
religion to our notice and regard, not as a system of specula- 
tive truth, but as a faithful, active, and diligent improvement 
of whatever God hath been pleased to bestow upon us. 

This much may suffice as to the importance of the parable 
itself. The instruction we raav draw from it, is as follows: 

I. First. Whatever our condition in the present life may 
be, it is the appointment of a wise and gracious God, who 
proportions his gifts, not by an arbitrary and capricious 
choice, but by the fixed and settled order of that Providence 
in which he governs the universe; and with a foresight of the 
part each individual has to act. This is clearly pointed out 
to us in the commencement of the parable — "He called his 
own servants, and delivered unto them his goods; to every 
man according to his several ability." 

This doctrine, we are all ready enough to admit; but we 
do not extend it as far as we ought, being disposed to confine 
it to those qualifications of mind and body whicli are con- 



372 PAEABLE OF THE TALENTS. 

fessedly not of our own procuring in any sense, such as beau- 
ty or deformity of person, health and strength of body, sound- 
ness of mind, with all the grades of genius, as it is called, in 
other words, a capacity to acquire knowledge, either gene- 
rally or in some particular branch of science, together with 
situations in life, productive of events, whether good or evil, 
which leave a permanent character behind them. These, 
and such like, we readily enough attribute, at least in words, 
to the special gift of God. But to entertain this doctrine as 
we ought, we must include much more; even all that is not 
evidently the result of our own crimes and follies. These 
last, indeed, are provided, both for and against, in the infinite 
comprehension of God's overruling wisdom; but they can 
never be considered as talents, that is, as improveable gifts; 
for in so doing, we should make God the author of sin. Hence, 
my brethren, we are instructed, that our original condition, 
as respects the advantages or disadvantages of birth and for- 
tune, the moral qualities of temper and disposition, the 
means, time, and opportunity afforded, are all in the number 
of those gifts of God, here represented to us by the word 
"talent." To the inquiry, why to one is given five, to ano- 
ther two, and to another one? we can give no other answer, 
than that infinite goodness and wisdom so willed; nor are we 
concerned to know. Indeed, no benefit could arise from the 
knowledge, beyond the satisfaction of a vain curiosity. The 
point of wisdom for us to be engaged about is, the number 
and magnitude of those committed to ourselves. We have 
not to answer for each other — "Every one shall give account 
of himself to God." 

II. Secondly. We are instructed from the text, that what- 
ever we possess, be it more or be it less, is not our own, in 
the sense we attach to ownership. All should be considered 
as the property of the "Giver of every good and perfect gift," 
to be used in his service, and applied according to his direc- 
tion. We hold in trust, my brethren, and a trust of a com- 
plicated nature. 

First, and in the highest sense, to the use, honor, and glory 
of the giver. "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, 
do all to the glory of God;" which means, briefly, this — to 
keep a continual sense of God upon our minds, and truly to 



PAKABLE OF THE TALENTS. 373 

intend and earnestly to promote the advancement of his 
kingdom among men, in the prevalence of righteousness, 
mercy, and truth in the world. 

Secondly, to our own benefit and advantage, in a temper- 
ate, thankful use of his blessings, and in a diligent improve- 
ment of whatever he has bestowed upon us, "God giveth us 
all things richly, to enjoy." He debars us from nothing that 
is not in some shape hurtful to us. Of this, our own experi- 
ence, as well as that of others, is a constant witness. And it 
is a mistaken view of the Christian doctrine of self-denial, or 
mortification of the body, which extends it to things innocent 
in themselves, and possessing no tendency, either directly or 
by consequence, to injure us in soul, body, or estate. But 
though this is undoubtedly true, yet such is the fatal propen- 
sity of our fleshly' minds to run to excess in the indulgence 
of appetite, in the pursuit of pleasure, falsely so called, that 
it is safer to follow St. Paul's example, and "to keep the 
body under;" rather to abridge our gratifications, yea, to deny 
ourselves in things lawful and permitted, than to risk their 
becoming an occasion of falling in ourselves or a stumbling 
block to others. "No man liveth unto himself;" so that even 
our enjoyments partake of the character of duties, and must 
'be regulated by the effect they are calculated to produce, both 
on ourselves and others. 

Thirdly: we hold our worldly advantages, indeed our spir- 
itual ones also, in trust for the benefit of others. "Thou shalt 
love thy neighbour as thyself," is the sum and substance of 
the second table, as it is called, Of God's law. On which I 
will only observe, that the least that can be allowed concern- 
ing this duty, is, that the principle be as strong as our self- 
love. A hard saying, my brethren, and no otherwise to be 
fulfilled, than by the succor and help of God's Holy Spipjt! 
For however natural it may be, that children of the same 
family should love one another, yet so strong is self, that 
"with men it is impossible, though not with God." 

In this trust for others there are also degrees. 

First, our own families. "If any provide not for his own, 
and specially for those of his own house, (or kindred,) he hath 
denied the faith (perverted the gospel) and is worse than an 
infidel." 



374 PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 

Xext, for our Christian brethren. "As we have opportu- 
nity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who 
are of the household of faith." 

Thirdly, for the poor and needy, the suffering and afflicted. 
"Pure religion, before God and the Father, is this, to visit 
the fatherless and widows in their affliction." 

This, my brethren, is to give our Lord's money to the ex- 
changers, in the genuine sense. And it is not without pur- 
pose and connexion, that this weighty parable immediately 
precedes the description of the judgment of the great day. 
"I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty 
and ye gave me no drink; I was naked and ye clothed me 
not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." "Lord, 
when saw we thee in such case, and did not minister to thee?" 
"Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye 
did it not to me." O what a beautiful and touching repre- 
sentation is this, my brethren, of the interest our Lord takes 
in his people! What an affecting application of his last com- 
mandment, that wo "should love one another even as he 
loved us!" And behold how wisely he hath provided, that 
none should consider themselves exempt from the duty, be- 
cause of the smallness of their means. "For," says he, "who- 
ever shall give to drink, unto one of these little ones, a cup 
of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto 
yon, he shall in no wise lose his reward." 

III. A third head of instruction which we may draw from 
the text is, the necessity of consideration. "Lord, thou de- 
liveredst unto me five talents." 

Hence we learn, that the person to whom they were given 
made his own individual condition, the advantages he was 
possessed of, the subject of careful consideration; otherwise 
he could never have ascertained what he was entrusted with 
so as to make the retpuired use of them. This, my brethren, 
lies at the root of all advancement or improvement of con- 
dition, whether temporal or spiritual. Experience teaches 
us that, even in worldly things, there can be no success, no 
increase, no improvement, without considering carefully 
what our means are for the attainment of any proposed end; 
and then applying them steadily and diligently to that end. 

Worldly men are well aware of the advantage of singleness 



PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. OiO 

of intention, of having one main leading object in view and 
directing their thoughts and efforts chieflv to its advance- 
ment, bending every circumstance in life to the one purpose 
which occupies their desire. And herein "the children of 
this world are in their generation wiser than the children of 
light;" for rarely indeed, are they disappointed, who thus lay 
themselves out for a portion in time. How much more 
strongly, then, does this apply to our spiritual concerns! How 
much more deserving of serious consideration and diligent 
engagement are our everlasting interests! How deeply are 
we all interested to ascertain what is entrusted to us, when 
it is so expressly set before us that improvement and nothing 
but improvement, will be accepted at our hands. Even the 
unprofitable servant appears to have considered and reasoned 
on his particular trust, "Lord, I knew that thou wert a hard 
man." He was aware that if he wasted and abused his lord's 
goods he would be punished. To guard, therefore, against 
that, he went and hid his talent in the earth. "When called 
to account, he returned what was committed to him safe and 
uninjured, "Lo, there thou hast that is thine." But, alas! it 
was unimproved, and therefore could not be received. 

Oh! what a lesson, my hearers, should this be to us all. If 
simple neglect, if inadvertence and inconsideration, are thus 
criminal, and consigned to ;, outer darkness, to weeping and 
gnashing of teeth," what must be the unutterable misery of 
those who are spendthrifts alike of temporal and spiritual 
treasured TTho to carelessness, neglect, and light estimation 
of what is committed to them, add waste and abuse, perver- 
sion and prostitution of God's mercies — call their talents their 
own, and in the face of warning and example lay them out 
in the purchase of eternal death? i; consider this, ye that for- 
get God," while it is yet in your power to redeem the time 
by repentance. 

IT. The fourth and last point I shall present for your in- 
struction is, the fairness and equity of God's method of deal- 
ing with his creatures. He requires only in proportion as 
he gives, and he rewards according to the improvement made. 
"Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have 
abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away 
even that which he hath." This passage of Scripture, as it 



376 PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 

is the moral of the parable, can be explained and understood 
no otherwise than of the improvement which, as rational, ac- 
countable beings, we are bound, both by duty and interest, 
to make of what God is pleased to bestow upon us in the 
present life; and the proceeding is so accordant with our 
natural notions of right, that we act upon it, even instinctive- 
ly, in whatever it applies to. How fair and equitable, then, 
that God should measure out to us by the same rule! "Take 
heed, therefore, for with what measure ye mete, it shall be 
measured to you again." 

Some of us, perhaps, may be disposed to think with the 
unprofitable servant that our Loud is "a hard man." But it 
is not so, my friends, either in fact or vet in our thoughts. 
Almighty God is a fair and bountiful master; yea, our God 
is merciful, of which every soul present is a proof. He re- 
quires nothing of us beyond what he gives us ability to per- 
form, neither is it true that we think him a hard master. 
Hard and severe masters are generally very punctually 
obeyed and diligently served; and such would be the effect 
upon us were it our real sentiment. But, on the contrary, 
the secret thought of too many is, that he is more merciful 
than his own word declares him to be; taking license from 
this delusion to sin openly against him; drawing from the 
death and sufferings of his dear Son, not a proof of God's in- 
describable hatred of sin, but an argument to sin more securely; 
and thus making Christ the minister of sin, and "turning 
the grace of God into lasciviousness," by laying the flattering 
unction to their souls, that after all they shall escape the 
eternal punishment of God's revealed wrath. But let such 
think this with themselves again, that if simple neglect — 
failure to improve — is justly sufficient to drive those who 
thus act, from his presence for ever — if it includes a forfeiture 
of the reward offered by grace to faith and obedience through 
the merits of Christ — how much more shall waste and abuse 
of his mercies, contempt of his word and commandment, and 
open rebellion against his righteous government, draw down 
upon them the full tempest of his wrath and vengeance? 
"Who, then, may abide the day of his coming?' ; "Lord! 
who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that hath clean hands 
and a pure heart; he that walketh uprightly and worketh 



PARABLE 0E THE TALENTS-. 37? 

[righteousness;" he that by the improvement of his talent hath 
"laid up in store a good foundation against the time to come" 
• — who, by care and diligence, hath "made his calling and 
election sure,'' and attained to that "holiness, without which 
no man shall see the Lord." 

Thus, my brethren and friends, may we draw from the 
parable in my text instruction as to the nature of our present 
life; the bearing it has upon that which is to come; the con- 
dition on which we hold the varied mercies of God's bounti- 
ful providence; the account we have to render, of them, and 
the unspeakable consequences which await the use we shall 
■make of them. One leading thought is throughout pressed 
upon our attention, and that is, improvement, increase, .ad- 
vancement — in other words, growth in grace. Without this 
the moral of the parable shows us that there is no hope — no 
good hope, no assurance — none whatever. "Lord, thou de- 
liveredst unto me five talents, behold, I have gained besides 
them five talents more." "Well done." "Lord, thou deliv* 
eredst unto me one talent, and I feared thee and went and 
hid thy talent in the earth, here it is." "Thou wicked and 
slothful servant." And I notice it the rather, singly and by 
itself, that it may reach your attention and help to cut up by 
the roots the delusion under which so many labor, that if 
they do no harm, as it is called, if they are orderly and de- 
cent in outward behaviour, refrain from the more gross and 
out-breaking practice of sin and wickedness, from the vain 
dissipations of a thoughtless world, and are in fellowship with 
some denomination of professing Christians, all is well — they 
are in a safe way of salvation. But what sa} r s my textj 
brethren? Where is the increase I had a right to expect? 
Where is the good it was in the power of thine hand to do 
with my goods? Wherefore didst thou not give my money 
to the exchangers? Take the unproductive servant and cast 
him into outer darkness! Alas! my brethren, let us be no 
longer secure because we are free from the rankness of that 
sin which rules in the children of disobedience. When we 
have clone all, we are taught to consider ourselves as unpro- 
fitable servants; but if we come short of that improvement 
which God justly requires of us, we shall be, not only unpro-' 
fitable, but unproductive, withered, unfruitful branches, fit 
[Vol. 2,— *25.] 



37S PAEAJBLE OF THE TALENTS. 

for nothing but to be cast into the fire and burned. Oh! let 
this awakening truth do away the fatal propensity of our fal- 
len nature to curtail the duties of our religious state, and 
pare down the standard of the gospel to our own unholy 
measure! Let it startle us to consider afresh what God hath 
committed to our trust, and, with a fixed conviction that it 
must be improved at the peril of our souls, let it strengthen 
us to cut off the right hand, to pluck out the right eye, of our 
selfish desires and unsanctified affections, putting our trust 
in Gon for the power to do what he requires of us! And let 
those who consume their time and lay out their means in the 
pursuit of pleasure and amusement in the fashionable follies 
and giddy unthinking vanities of the times — who are alto- 
gether i apposed to the wise restraints and salutary self-denials 
of the gospel, and ask. "Where is the harm in a little innocent 
mirth and recreation! as they term the round of folly; — let 
such look here and then answer their own question! Let 
them then say whether there is not a cause why the minis- 
ters of Christ should lift up their voices like a trumpet to 
show them their danger. 

Fruitful as this particular parable is, in matter "for re- 
proof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," and 
well as it would repay a wider and longer range of consider- 
ation, I must leave the further improvement of it in this way 
to your own sense of its importance. AYhat I have said upon 
it will, I trust, be helpful to your private meditations. Ee- 
member, that whatever you have or are, will be required at 
your bauds with increase;, that the various talents of reason 
and understanding, of condition in life, of wealth and influ- 
ence, are all gifts, improvable to the glory of God and the 
good of men; that your children and servants, your relations 
and neighbors, are not only in themselves talents committed 
specially to your care, but instruments for the improvement 
and application of reason, condition in life, wealth and influ- 
ence, to the spread and advancement, the increase and es- 
tablishment, of religion in the world. Remember, above all. 
that the precious talent of the gospel is yours; "the wisdom 
that cometh down from above," "the hope that maketh not 
aahamed." Let each one of you, then, "as a partaker of the 
manifold grace of God," apply this parable to himself. And 



PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 379 

herein will be your true wisdom, my friends, for it will most 
surely be applied to you, in that awful judgment, which the 
vanishing away of our passing days brings nearer and nearer 
to each one of us. O that this undoubted fact may lead us 
all to think more deeply of the great and comprehensive tal- 
ent of time, that it neither waits nor returns, and that it ends 
in eternity. 

Let me then exhort you, by the worth of your immortal 
souls, by the goodness of God, by the love of Christ, by all 
the mercies of your condition, by the strict account you must 
give of them, by the shortness and uncertainty of life, by the 
infinite disproportion between things temporal and eternal, 
yea, by the waste already committed in your trust estate; let 
me beseech you to lay near your hearts the solemn truths 
now presented to you. To many of us, my brethren, the day 
is far spent, the night is at hand, the judge is at the door. O 
let these things speak to us of preparing to meet our God! 
Let us honestly examine our state. Of what possible advan- 
tage can it be for a rational creature to deceive himself in 
this great concern? What can compensate for the loss of our 
souls? Let them speak in the same warning voice to those, 
who with greener years fairly look for a longer trial. The 
young have their talents also to improve, and their account 
to give in, and not unfrequently at a short notice. ]STow, 
then, is the time to turn and escape for your lives, before the 
blinding, hardening influence of sin and folly have made 
escape difficult, if not impossible. 

Let me exhort you, in particular, against the prevailing 
delusion of your years — that you have time in store, — that, 
"your Lord delayeth his coming." The parable, indeed, 
tells us, that it was after a long time, that the lord of those 
servants came and reckoned with them. But it tells us also, 
that he did come, and called for their accounts. To you also 
he will come, my younger hearers, and "ye know neither the 
day nor the hour. Be ye therefore also ready, your loins 
girt about and your lights burning," that ye may go in with 
your Lord to the marriage; for "He that shall come will 
come, and will not tarry; and behold, his reward is with him, 
to give to every one according as his work shall be." What 
that work must be, to receive his heart-cheering, life-giving 



380 PARABLE OF THE TALENTS. 

"well done," is set before us in the most familiar and convin- 
cing manner in my text, and so plainly that he that runs 
may read. 

Let me exhort you, then, no longer to turn a deaf ear to 
that warning word, which is "able to make you wise unto 
salvation, through faith which is in Cheist Jesus;" and let 
what you have heard teach you, that the religion of the gos- 
pel is not a- set of abstract notions contained in the head, nor 
yet a system of doctrines entertained in the belief, neither does 
it consist in any outward name or profession among Chris- 
tians, but in such a hearty reception of revealed truth as leads 
the heart to God, and draws out the life in obedience to his 
commandments; an active, living principle of accountable 
duty. As such, seek after and improve this and all your talents. 
In the revolution of time, there is much of warning to a 
serious mind. In the close of one year and commencement of 
another, there is much for meditation to work profitably upon. 
To me it speaks loudly of the account I must ere long give 
in, not only for myself but for others; for you, my brethren 
and hearers, it tells me, at a double peril, not to hide my 
Lord's talent in the earth; not to be negligent in providing that 
ye may have these things, these practical things of religion, 
faithfully pressed upon you. It speaks to me of greater dili- 
gence and more earnestness in my calling; it inquires of me, 
How many talents hast thou added to thy Lord's stock? Alas! 
my brethren, what a small amount in the whole! How little in 
the past year! But praised be God that there is any! And 
though the improvement hitherto made in this portion of his 
vineyard is of small amount, let us put our trust in God for 
better times; let us hope that those who are in darkness will 
yet awake to the light of his marvellous truth, and "arise and 
shake themselves from the dust;" that Zion will, even here, yet 
"put on her beautiful garments," and be a praise among men. 
My brethren and hearers, may that merciful God who hath 
called us to the knowledge of his grace — that compassionate 
Saviour who hath paid our ransom with his own blood — that 
enlightening, sanctifying Spirit whom he hath sent into the 
world to abide with his Church, guide, govern, and keep us, 
to the glory of his name on earth, and to the blessedness of 
his presence in heaven. Amen. 



. 



SEKMON XXXII. 

PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 



Luke viii. 15. 

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, 
having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with 23atieuee. 

The parable of the sower, my brethren, is exceedingly in- 
structive, awakening, and profitable; inasmuch as it affords 
to every man the certain means of ascertaining what effect 
God's message of mercy to the world by his Son has had upon 
himself, and also to what cause its want of effect, should that 
be the case, is to be ascribed; whether to careless, way-side 
hearing, to superficial consideration when heard and received, 
or to absorption in the cares and pleasures of the world. In 
presenting us, moreover, with a single test of religious con- 
dition, it simplifies the duty of self examination, and enables 
every individual, by attending to his-growth in grace, to form 
a just estimate of his interest in the Christian salvation. This 
test is contained in the words of my text, and lays down this 
sure position, that improvement of Christian advantages is 
the only safe criterion of Christian hope, the only ground of 
a just and reasonable assurance in the momentous concerns 
of immortality. In this it runs parallel with the parable of 
the talents, and, in the union of their joint moral, establishes 
the practical doctrine, that the religion of the gospel is the 
active discharge of our duties to God and each other, from 
proper motives and with reasonable expectations. 

It presents us, therefore, with a subject of profitable im- 
provement, in considering, 

Ftrst, the influence of natural disposition on the reception 
of divine truth. 

Secondly, how far external conduct is to be relied upon as 
a proof of religion. 

Thirdly, what constitutes the sure test, upon which we 
may safely depend. 



382 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

"But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest 
and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring 
forth fruit with patience." 

I. First, I am to consider the influence of natural dispo- 
sition on the reception of divine truth. 

That this will be»in opposition, may he asserted without 
any fear of contradiction; individual experience being the 
living witness of the fact. But of what character that op- 
position will be, whether of mere indifference, of careless 
neglect, of contrary pursuit, or of actual hostility, will depend 
on original difference of temperament, modified by the ad- 
ventitious circumstances of early education and worldly oc- 
cupation. 

It is, indeed, of little consequence, as to the event, to what 
cause opposition to divine truth may be ascribed, provided 
it continues; but it is of great consequence to know, that 
some natural tempers, as well as some worldly pursuits and 
occupations, are more or less indisposed to those motives and 
arguments, which are calculated to counteract this tendency, 
and by the aid of divine grace to overcome it; because upon 
this must depend, both the exertion to be put forth by the 
individual, and the application of the necessary means by 
others. 

Wlule, however, we thus state, without any qualili cation, 
the averseness and opposition of our fallen and perverted 
natures to the things of God and religion, we do not mean to 
say, that it is an aversion and opposition which cannot be 
overcome, or which presents any extenuation of guilt. On 
the contrary, we present it to you, and press it upon you, to 
awaken and alarm you, and to induce you to resort to those 
means, by which only this mortal malady can be arrested 
and cured. For there is provision made in the gospel of 
Christ against all the variety of this original taint and cor- 
ruption of our nature, and — let us hear it with the deepest 
impression — it is no where else to be found. 

Hence we are able to account for that difference, both in 
kind and degree, of opposition to divine truth, which is ob- 
servable among men. The natural man "receiveth not the 
things of the Spirit of God; he is simply indisposed to con- 
sider and entertain them. The sensual man not only receives 



PAYABLE OF THE SOWER. 38S 

them not, but "they are foolishness unto him" compared with 
present delights. The worldly man cannot receive them, his 
heart is gone after its covetousness, the idol fills the temple, 
-and there is no room for them. While the actual unbeliever 
not only does not receive them, but rejects them with loath- 
ing, and, at the same time, with a strange mixture of fear 
•and dread. 

"Whence, then, cometh the "honest and good heart," which 
both receives, and retains, and improves, divine truth? My 
answer is, that it is the fruit of sound instruction, wise re- 
straint, serious consideration, earnest prayer, and diligent en- 
deavor, made effectual by the Spirit of God, to this happy 
■end. So far, then, it is put within the reach of every one of 
us, and we are without excuse, if we have not attained it, or 
■are not seriously striving- for it. 

Hence we learn how the neglect of these essential duties 
operates to increase this corruption of our nature, even to the 
hatred of God and religion — in other words, how we become 
"hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." And hence 
opens upon us the wide and binding obligation of parental 
•duty, in the nurture and admonition of families. With parents 
it rests, to give to the natural disposition, while tender and 
pliant, a direction towards God; to train it heaven-ward; to 
cultivate and prune it, that it may bear good fruit; to apply 
the counteracting influence of early instruction, watchful re- 
straint, and good example. These God enjoins, and has pro- 
mised to bless, and without these the hope is wild and un- 
warranted, that there will be any fear of God, or conformity 
to his holy will. 

It may, indeed, be otherwise in the sovereignty of divine 
grace, but this cannot be counted upon; and where it does 
take place, it releases not from guilt those who have neglected, 
the more ordinary, rational, and scriptural means, in the right 
use of which the end would have been more surely attained. 
O Christian parents! yes, and parents who are not Chris- 
tians! what a weight is upon you, from which you cannot es- 
cape! What an obligation, for which you must answer with 
your souls! and what precious promises and blessed hopes 
are yours, if you fulfil your duty! Have you ever realized 
them? Have you ever thought of them beyond the little 



384 PAKABLE OF THE SOWEK. 

minute I was pressing them upon you? O that I could en>- 
grave them upon your hearts! O that God would give me 
wherewithal to move you — a tongue of fire, or a lip of per- 
suasion! "For it is not a vain thing for you, because it i$ 
your life." And wo to that pestilent doctrine, which, in its- 
perhaps unintended but necessary effect, hath paralyzed this- 
duty, and spread the double murder of growing infidelity 
over the land! Alas! when I look around me, and see so- 
many young persons, for whose worldly condition eveiy pains- 
hath been taken, but who manifest no concern for their soul&y 
what am I to think! That their parents have been faithful 
in this duty? Alas! no. For then God must be unrighteous 
to forget his promise to this work and labor of love. O let 
us humble ourselves before him, and confess our sin, and 
implore his grace to counteract our past neglect, and form, 
in these young persons the honest and good heart, which 
shall receive the truth in the love of it, and to bless our ear- 
nest endeavors to amend this great defect, for the time to 
come. Thus shall repentance bring forth, fruits meet for it,. 
and a visitation of mercy "add to the Church such as shall; 
be saved." 

II. Secondly, I am to consider how far external conduct is- 
to be relied upon as a proof of religion. 

That the inward or governing principle of the mind will, 
in some shape or other, be manifested by the outward beha- 
viour of the man, is just as certain, my brethren and hearers,, 
as that the tree is known by its fruit. Where we see a con- 
tinued- course of thoughtlessness, and levity, and sin, and 
folly, in the behaviour of any individual, there is no difficul- 
ty in determining that there is nothing of the religious prin- 
ciple in the heart: the tree is not made good. But it will not,. 
tlK'ivfore, follow — as at first sight it would appear to do — 
that external conduct is what we are alone or chi'efly to look 
to as the proof of the religious principle being formed and 
active in our hearts. From the nature of things, the root is 
before the branches: principle, therefore, must precede prac- 
tice. It is undoubtedly true, however, that every man, what- 
ever his condition may be, can give the negative proof that 
the religious principle is formed in his heart, by abstaining 
from sin.. But it may not be equally in his power to, give- 



PARABLE OF TIIE SOWER. 385 

the positive proof of it by actions directly good. These must 
depend upon ability and opportunity — neither of which may 
be present, though the principle from which good works flow 
may be enjoyed. And this necessarily follows from the 
great variety of circumstances in which men are placed, and 
to which their outward 'behaviour is subjected. Outward 
conduct, therefore, though good evidence of the want of the 
religious principle, is not always to be relied upon as the 
only safe and just evidence for it. 

This will be confirmed by a case which is too common, 
and in which outward conduct is no measure of religious 
principle; and that is, when the conduct springs from motives 
and reasons which have no reference to religion at all. 

A very bad man may be externally forward in what are 
called good works; many notorious, outbreaking sinners are 
yet humane in temper, and liberal to the poor. A man com- 
pletely irreligious at heart, and owning himself such, may, 
for the sake of character and respect in the world, for the 
sake of advantage, or from the fear of loss, from constitu- 
tional temperament, and from a multitude of- considerations 
separate from any religious impression, be both forward and 
liberal in doing good, and cautious of giving offence by doing- 
evil. Yea, how many amiable and excellent persons do we 
all know, who, in their outward deportment, are a reproach 
to professing Christians, yet have no more to do with reli- 
gion, no more intimacy with its exercises and ordinances, 
than the seats they sit upon. 

In examining ourselves, therefore, with a view of knowing 
the real condition of our souls- — the truth of our spiritual 
condition in the sight of God, and in respect of salvation, it 
is neither enough, nor is it safe, to take into the account only 
our external conduct. What comports with religious duty 
may in good part be found there, and after all prove a most 
miserable deception. Yet we know by experience, that it is 
the delusion under which thousands are posting hoodwinked 
to eternity. They do no harm, they do all the good they 
can, they see no great difference between their walk in life 
and that of Christians, and they hope to be saved even as 
others. But they never inquire into the principle on which 
that hope rests. They search not the Scriptures for the con:- 



386 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

ditions on which salvation is limited to man. They strive 
not to enter in at the strait gate. There is no conflict even 
with worldly interest. "What they do, they do to be seen of 
men; and they have their reward in the complacency and 
self-satisfaction of their own hearts, and in the praise of men. 
But, my brethren, this is not the master key which opens the 
gate of eternal life to a sinner. This is not that which ren- 
ders even good works acceptable to God. There is a better 
way to determine this mighty interest, which I now show 
unto you, by considering, as was proposed, 

III. Thirdly, what constitutes the sure test upon which We 
may safely depend. 

Now this consists, under every variety of disposition and 
condition, in the union of a right motive with a good action. 
Where these meet, the fruit is perfect. Where they are sep- 
arated, the best action, the greatest good that ever was done, 
has no moral or rewardable quality in the sight of God. As 
the motive or principle, therefore, alone sanctifies the action, 
and that can only be seated in the heart, to our hearts we 
must look, in the first and chief place, for the marks and to^- 
kens of religion, for the evidence that we are in the right way* 
"That on the good ground are they, who, in an honest and 
good heart, bring forth fruit with patience." 

It', therefore, we are not conscious of that change of heart 
which gives a new direction to all our thoughts and to all 
our actions — that "secret of the Lord," that "hidden man of 
the heart," that "birth from above," as the inspired writers 
term it — the most splendid series of good actions that can be 
performed can have no religious quality: "If I give all my 
goods to feed the poor, and even my body to be burned, and 
have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Hence we may 
learn, mv brethren, how it is that actions which to our view 
are exactly alike, may, nevertheless, both in themselves and 
in the sight of God, be altogether opposite; how the widow's 
mite, and the ostentatious offering of the wealthy Pharisee, 
were infinitely removed from each other in His estimation 
whose judgment is ever according to truth. 

And hence also we may learn what is the sure test to 
which to bring our spiritual state; that it' we would enjoy the 
comfort and assurance of the gospel, we must not only be 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 387 

rich in good works, but rich also in that spiritual root from 
which alone all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just 
works do proceed. 

It is faith working by love, rny brethren, that adorns the 
doctrine of God our Saviour here upon earth; but it is love, 
mighty through faith to regain a heavenly inheritance, that 
sits down forever at the right hand of God. Let us not at- 
tempt to separate, then, what God hath joined, but, in their 
holy union, "prove what is that perfect and acceptable will 
of God, in which he hath chosen us to salvation through 
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." 

I will now proceed to apply what has been said, by some 
practical inferences from the subject. 

"Keep thy heart with all diligence," saith the wise man, 
"for out of it are the issues of life." "Out of the heart pro- 
ceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, 
false witness, blasphemies," saith the Saviour, "and these are 
the things which defile a man." "If our heart condemn us," 
saith the apostle, "God is greater than our heart and know- 
eth all things." "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then 
have we confidence towards God." 

Connected with my text, and with what hath been said, 
these passages of Scripture may serve to impress us with the 
duty of looking carefully to the seat of all religion — the heart. 
My brethren and hearers, religion, the saving religion of Je- 
sus Christ, is a vital principle; and whatever of scoff and 
mockery may be cast upon it, it is only in this character that 
it is worth seeking or worth having. The state of our hearts, 
then, on the subject of religion, must be of great importance, 
as it must also be to have some marks by which to deter- 
mine whether at all, and to what extent, it has any influence 
upon us. 

Now one of these marks, and that a very conclusive one, 
is seriousness; seriousness of the heart, not occasionally ex- 
cited, but abiding. The man or the woman, who does not 
find him or herself serious on the subject of religion, can 
draw but one conclusion, and that is, that as yet they have 
neither part nor lot in the matter. If the judgment of Al- 
mighty God at the last day, which we must all meet — if the 
difference between being saved and being lost, being accepted 



SSS PARABLE OF THE SO WEE. 

in the beloved or cast off into hell, where the worm dieth not, 
and the fire is not quenched — if these things will not make 
us serious, then it is most certain, either that we do not be- 
lieve there are any such consequences, or that we have not 
yet thought of them at all, or that we have forcibly dismissed 
them from our minds, or that we are so imbued with levity 
of character that even eternity can make no impression upon 
us. In any of these cases our condition is next to desperate; 
we can have no hope hereafte'r from any thing that Chris- 
tianity has to offer us. 

If our want of seriousness concerning religion is occasioned 
by our not believing it, there can be no hope of salvation from 
a religion which we reject. Indeed the mind cannot be af- 
fected by what it does not realize; and if the mind is un- 
touched by the realities of a future state, the conduct will be 
so likewise. 

If it be the c§se with us, as, alas! it is with thousands,, 
that we have not yet thought of these things, and hence are 
not serious about them, certainly it is high time with every 
one who hears me, to take the subject home to his deepest 
consideration. The great events of death and judgment, of 
heaven and hell, are not at a distance from us. As we draw 
near the close of our days, they come nearer to every one of 
us, and are precisely the same as if the day of our death was 
the day of judgment. Therefore, it is fully in the extreme in 
any rational being to say he has not thought of religion. It 
is an answer we sometimes receive; but it is a foolish one — 
indeed it is worse than foolish, it is highly presumptuous. 
And yet, do I not look oil many who would have to give this 
answer or none at all? "Who have never sat down to count 
the cost at which their immortal souls are staked in an ap- 
proaching eternity, nor have given to the revelation of Jesus 
Christ and him crucified, that serious consideration to which, 
as the only name under heaven given among men for salva- 
tion, it is entitled? Alas! my careless hearers, can religion 
do you any good while it is a mere matter of occasional spec- 
ulation, desired perhaps, but never sought, never found? I 
may sow the word, but of what advantage can it be to the 
thoughtless way side hearer, who allows the wicked one to 
catch it away almost as it is sown? "With what profit will it 



P ARABLE OF THE SOWEK. 389 

fall on the shallow ground of that heart to which seriousness 
is a stranger? Alas! should it even spring np, how soon is it 
blasted and withered in the ungenial climate of the vanities 
and follies of the world! and how surely is it choked and 
rendered unfruitful in those whose seriousness is absorbed in 
the cares of this life! whose hearts bow down before the god 
of this world! Oh! if it should please God to command the 
pestilence upon us, or infect our atmosphere with death, 
what thousands would be turned over to the forlorn hope of 
a death-bed repentance, because religious seriousness is ban- 
ished from their hearts! And is this impossible? Has it 
never happened? Ask yourselves, then, seriously, my hearers, 
Can youth, or health, or business, or pleasure, be any excuse 
for not thinking about religion? Is it of importance only to 
the old, and infirm, and dying, to be saved? Do the young, 
and the strung, and the busy, and the dissipated, never die? 
Can they be saved without religion? or can religion save them 
without thinking about it? No! Those who are saved, not 
only receive the word into an honest and good heart, but 
keep it there. They are "not only hearers, but doers of the 
word." The man who brings forth fruit with patience, "de- 
lights in the law of the Lord, and meditates therein clay and 
night," and is compared to a "tree planted by the rivers of 
water, which bringeth forth fruit in his season." 

Lastly, if want of seriousness on the subject of religion 
proceed from such a levity of mind as nothing can make any 
impression upon, the condition is most dangerous. Fortius 
levity must be cured before any religious impression can be 
entertained, and the cure is in the hand of God only — in the 
application of those severe afflictions, which bring the mind 
to its balance. Then will the solemn considerations which 
were before made light of and jested at, find room to be 
entertained, and estimated according to their actual worth; 
and thus is the visitation of personal suffering very often the 
greatest kindness, because the only means of begetting seri- 
ousness on the subject of religion. Numbers ascribe their 
first serious impressions to the loss of some dear object, or to 
some severe bodily suffering; and as all serious persons find 
that disposition increased by every fresh affliction, this should 
teach us how necessary such visitations are to us, and how 



390 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

experimentally David spoke, when be said, "It is good for 
me, that I have been afflicted." "I know, O Lord, that thou, 
in very faithfulness, hast afflicted me." 

In saying, however, that the remedy for this most danger- 
ous state of mind is in the hand of God only, we do not mean 
to say that nothing can be done, either by the persons them- 
selves or by others, in aid of this most necessary work — for 
much may be done; and this poor world, amid all its witch- 
eries, is full of proofs, from daily calamity and supervening 
death, that it is not worth depending on for present pleasure, 
and that the sum of its gratifications, for the period of its 
endurance, would be dear bought, at the expense of the soul. 

Let us, then, my brethren, treasure up the instruction this 
parable presents us with. "Weekly the sower goes forth to 
sow. Let us examine carefully into what kind of ground, 
with what disposition of heart, we receive the good seed of 
the kingdom, Let us bring that to bear upon the fruit it 
produces in our outward conduct, and, by their mutual re- 
lation to each other, be certified both of the motive from 
which we act and the end to which we are progressing. Let 
us do this with the seriousness which eternity demands. So 
shall we daily ripen for the kingdom which cannot be moved, 
and, in the harvest of the world, when the tares shall be 
separated from the wheat, be gathered by the reapers into 
the garner of the Son of God. 



SEEMON XXXIII. 



FKUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 



Galatjans vi. 7. 

Be not deceived; Goi> iB not mocked: for whatsoever a man soiveth, that 
shall he also reap. 

The influence of the present life upon that which is tx> 
come, is here set forth under a similitude which is at once 
familiar and striking; and, as no one can possibly mistake 
the application, all are interested to consider its bearing upon 
their individual condition. We are all busy and attentive,, 
in various manners and degrees, in cultivating the material 
seed we have committed to the earth, and in pursuing our 
different worldly occupations. We have sowed in hope, and 
put forth our various exertions in confidence, that neither 
seed time nor harvest, nor the fruit ©f skill, and care, and 
diligence, shall be disappointed; and in all this we have done 
what is right, and what is, in truth, our bounden duty. We 
have none of us, however, expected to gather cotton from 
peas or corn from cotton, nor yet that the event in any 
worldly calling should be opposite to the means made use of 
to attain it. Now I would ask, why have we thus acted and 
expected? Upon what ground have we thus put forth our 
labor and skill in our various occupations? And whence is- 
it, that no man hath even looked for an alteration in the kind 
of his crop, or a result opposite to just expectation in the 
other pursuits of life? And let the only just answer that can 
be given — habitual dependence on the fixed order of an un- 
changeable Providence, in the government of Almighty Go© 
— open up to us the analogy of my text, and impress our 
hearts with its importance and equity. For while we are' 
ploughing and sowing, and laboring and striving for time, 
we are likewise putting in a crop for eternity; and just such 
as we sow, that shall we also reap. On this day, then, when 
worldly cares and occupations are interdicted — when the 



302 FKUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 

bustle and turmoil of the world is hushed by the command 
of God — let us endeavor to reap the fruit which a- careful 
consideration of this subject will surely present to us. 

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a 
man soweth, that shall he also reap." 

The doctrine contained in the text is the fundamental doc- 
trine of all religion, the link which connects time and eter- 
nity, and a state of reward or punishment with the quality 
of moral conduct. That every man shall finally receive of 
God according to what he has done in the present life, is a 
truth of the same certainty and of the same importance with 
the acknowledgment of the very being of God as the Moral 
Governor of the universe; and only as this is the fixed and 
full persuasion of our minds, will the claims and duties of 
religion be respected. Hence the frequency with which the 
doctrine is repeated in the Scriptures; the earnestness with 
which it is pressed upon our belief; the various similitudes 
whereby its connexion with our present conduct is illustrated, 
and the solemnity of that judgment which shall precede it 
is represented. 

As Jesus Christ came to reveal fully the will of God for 
our guidance — to furnish us amply for that life and immor- 
tality which is brought to light by the gospel — so did he 
continually confirm all the obligations of his religion, in the 
application of this equitable rule of judgment to our actions — 
"The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with 
the angels, and then he shall reward every man according to 
his works." "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is 
with me, to give to every man according as his work shall 
be." And what our Lord himself thus clearly taught, was 
no less plainly and earnestly inculcated by his apostles. 
"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 
that every one may receive the things done in the body, ac- 
cording to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 

To imagine, therefore, that any other rule will decide our 
everlating destiny, is not only to run counter to the express 
declarations of the Judge himself, but to affront the equity 
of our own minds, and to render practical, personal religion 
unimj)ortant, if not impossible. As on this point, however, 
men are much disposed to evade the plainest declarations of 



FRUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 393 

Scripture, and to 'resort to some shorter and easier method of 
salvation than the practice of moral righteousness, the apostle 
inserts a caution against all such self-deception — "Be not de- 
ceived," says he; ''God is not mocked." The great purpose 
of the religion of the gospel being the active love of God, in 
the attainment, in our measure and degree, of his moral per- 
fections; and the active love of our neighbor, in the exercise 
of benevolence and brotherly kindness; to expect the favor of 
the God of love upon any other conditions, is equally fruit- 
less and absurd — as contrary to reason as to expect to reap 
what we have not sowed. And it is not only thus fruitless 
and absurd, but an affront also to the perfections of the Al- 
mighty, in thinking to impose upon him chaff instead of 
wheat — the useless pretence of some abstract quality of the 
mind, instead of the real qualifications of a holy and actively 
benevolent life. Among such false dependences for the 
divine favor, may be reckoned as the chief, faith, without its 
fruits; trust in the mercy of God. without performance of the 
conditions on which it is promised; reliance on the merits of 
Christ, without departing from all iniquity; and good inten- 
tions put off till to-morrow. These most frequent delusions, 
as they produce no fruit corresponding with their external 
denomination, can only be classed according to their real 
character, by a wise and righteous Judge; and as "his fan is 
in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor," they 
will fly before the blast, "like the chaff which the wind scat- 
tereth abroad, over the face of the earth." To rely upon such 
vain expectations, then, is the fatal deception of thinking to 
deceive God with names instead of things; the miserable de- 
lusion of thinking that the supreme Moral Governor of the 
universe has less regard to the real fruits of religion and 
virtue in his creatures than to the empty professions of un- 
fruitful acknowledgment of him, and will reward the unpro- 
fitable servant equally with him who has improved his 
talents. 

But, whatever vain men may teach or wicked men choose 
to believe, "God is not mocked." The unchangeable dif- 
ferences of good and evil, of virtue and vice, remain unaltered. 
The righteous laws of his kingdom remain in full force. The 
rule of his righteous judgment is fixed, and recorded for our 
[Vol. 2,— *26.] 



£M' FKTTIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 

"benefit; and that rule is, "whatsoever a man soweth, that 
shall he also reap." 

What, then, are we sowing, mj brethren and hearers? what 
preparation are we making for that great harvest of eternal 
life or everlasting death, to which each one of us shall be 
adjudged, according to what we now sow? We read in the 
verse following my text, "He that soweth to the flesh, shall 
of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, 
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Have we, then, 
considered, with the seriousness it deserves, this master dis- 
tinction in our religious condition; and realized what these 
different pursuits end in? Oh! if we have not, let us now — 
before that night cometh in which no man can work — let us 
look our condition in the face! Let us meet the interests of 
our souls with an honest desire to profit by the yet sparing 
mercy of God, and improve this awakening passage of his 
holy word, to our eternal good! Who knows but (as it is the 
Lord's day) it may be Goo's time to visit and quicken us? 
Here are of all ages and descriptions — of all professions and 
worldly occupations present. Let us, then, begin and ask in 
order: What are we doing for eternity? What preparation 
are we making for that great harvest of the world, in which 
the reward of our hands shall be given us? 

But with whom shall we begin? Let us state the most 
numerous class in that great body of opposition to God which 
this earth contains. 

First, then, the worldling — by which I mean the person 
whose chief object and pursuit is, "the things that are seen" 
— the accommodations, enjoyments, and emoluments of time. 

My brother in nature and in iniquity, what seed art thou 
sowing? what crop art thou cultivating? and what harvest 
dost thou expect to reap? Has the thought ever taken hold 
of thy heart, and the question been met, as from an immortal 
spirit, soon to appear before its awful Judge? or, "has the god 
of this world blinded thy mind, among those that believe not, 
leet the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine unto thee?" Has the glory of 
the world, held up before thee by the prince of the power 
of the air, shut out from thy view "the glory of God, shining 
in the face of Jesus Christ," sent to redeem and deliver thee 



FRCIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 395 

from Lis power? O, if lie has, let me now do mine office to- 
wards thee, by "turning thee from darkness to light, and from 
the power of Satan to God," through the life and power of 
the word of God. "What is a man profited if he shall gain 
the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Canst thou answer 
that? Can thy calculations of profit and loss take in this risk, 
and find a premium equal to it? JSTo! "what shall a man give 
in exchange for his soul?" 

But, perhaps, prosperity has thee by the hand, and new 
barns and new warehouses are required for increasing goods, 
and thou art saying to thy soul, "be merry, and take thine 
ease, for thou hast much goods laid up for many years." But 
tell me, hast thou the years? Art thou insured against death? 
May it not be said to thee as to the fool in the parable, "this 
night shall thy soul be required of thee, and then whose 
shall all these things be?" Canst thou take them with thee, 
and enjoy them in the invisible state? No! "we brought 
nothing into this world, and it is equally certain that we can 
carry nothing out." Will God accept them as a ransom for 
thy soul? No! "we are not redeemed with corruptible things, 
as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ." 
What, then, is this world — in the whole extent of its praise, 
and power, and splendor — worth to an immortal spirit on 
trial for eternity? Every tongue can answer, that it is nothing 
worth; every understanding can perceive the folly of such a 
dependence; and the worse than folly of making that our 
main object in this life which cannot profit us in "the day of 
wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." O, 
if those who are taken in this snare would but ask themselves, 
What is all that I am so busily engaged about doing for my 
soul? How does God look upon it? What will the event be 
in eternity? — and take the answer from his true and faithful 
word; surely there is a voice of wisdom, even in the reason 
of our own minds, which might counteract this temptation — 
might strengthen us to resist its seducing effect, and bring us 
to God on the warrant of his promise, for "grace to help in 
time of need!" But no! "the deaf adder is not more deaf to 
the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely," than 
the worldling is to the united testimony of reason and re- 
ligion. Even at this moment, when his conscience responds 



396 FRUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 

to the truth, instead of opening his heart to receive it, he is 
striving how to put it away from him, and to find some sub- 
terfuge under which to take shelter. And readily will he 
find some flimsy pretence to make the worse appear the better 
reason. His master is on the watch to prompt the ready 
evasion, and even to say, "ye shall not surely die;" and the 
"strong delusion" which heaven threatens to send "upon those 
who will not believe," makes the devil's lie superior to the 
truth of God. But as "no lie is of the truth," so this will be 
found emphatically of the father of lies in that day, when 
"the fire shall try every man's work, whether it be good or 
evil." In this harvest of the world, then, what is the world- 
ling to reap? He hath "laid up treasure upon earth;" biit "the 
earth and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." He 
is "rich and increased in goods;" but he is "not rich towards 
God." No seed has been sowed to the glory of God; there is, 
therefore, to him, no harvest of reward in the kingdom of 
Christ and of God. Take then, thy gains in that day, world- 
ling, and weigh them now in the balances of the sanctuary, 
and count their worth. Open thine ear to hear and thine heart 
to receive instruction, and be no longer deceived, for "God is 
not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." 

Secondly, the sensualist, by which I mean the slave of 
appetite — the brutal follower of the lusts of the flesh, whether 
openly profligate or more secretly offending. 

What seed is the glutton and the drunkard sowing for 
eternity? And of what description must his heaven be, to 
meet the propensities of his nature? An eternity of brutified 
faculties, and inflamed passions — a heaven of riot and in- 
temperance, of oaths and blasphemy. Why, the very thought 
is impious! And yet, for what else is the drunkard prepared? 
or in what else can he find satisfaction? We may suppose 
the mere worldly minded capable of being gratified in endless 
pursuit and accumulation; for there is something of mind, of 
intellectual exercise, in scheme and calculation. But to the 
glutton and the drunkard, intellect is of no use; his great pur- 
pose is, by repeated trial, to extinguish it and come nearer 
and nearer to the brute. Where, then, shall a place be found 
in God's kingdom of exalted and refined perception, purity 
and peace, for such characters? And where shall infinite 



FRUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 397 

wisdom — to say nothing of justice — assign them their place 
in eternity, but with such as themselves? As, in this world, 
they are an offence to all decency, so, in the world to come, 
must they be excluded from those who shall stand before God. 
But when we come to add sin to the account of the drunkard, 
and count up the fearful wages reserved for it, then it is that 
the folly of this brutishness is apparent — the madness of this 
self-destruction conspicuous. The seed they have sown in 
time must produce after its kind in eternity; and what that 
is, we learn from the parable of the rich glutton in the gos- 
pel. "He fared sumptuously every day," and indulged his 
appetite; but "he died, and in hell he lift up his eyes in tor- 
ments," and petitioned for a little water to cool his burning 
tongue, but it was denied him. "I am tormented in this 
flame," said he; but not one drop of those plenteous libations 
in which he had debauched himself, was now at his com- 
mand. He increased thirst and nourished an artificial fever 
in his veins, by intemperance, when upon earth — this was 
the seed he sowed, and the thirst of everlasting burnings is 
the crop he reaps. Oh! what a price to be paid for the sordid 
indulgence of intoxication. But the only, and the certain 
price. For God hath said — and he is not mocked — "Drunk- 
ards shall not inherit the kingdom of God." 

The same question must be asked of another class of sen- 
sualists — "those who walk after the flesh, in the lust of un- 
cleanness" — the adulterers and fornicators of the world. 
With what seed are they sowing the great field of eternity, 
and what crop shall they reap? 

Look at the prowling profligate on the watch for his prey, 
as he skulks through darkness with the thief to the haunts of 
vice and wretchedness; and let darkness close upon what 
ought not once so much as to be named among Christians. 
Some sins can be exposed in their details, and, thereby, made 
the more odious; but this is too odious for exposure, and, there- 
fore, the more hateful in the sight of God. Yet to no other 
is the world so lenient, or more criminally remiss in holding 
up to detestation those who are guilty of it. The wretched 
creature who steals your purse or your horse must forfeit all 
respect, and even his life; while he who steals from innocence 
its peculiar treasure, or invades the sanctity and peace of 



398 FBUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 

wedded life, walks abroad unquestioned, and is received with 
smiles and favor. But no smile beams upon him from above. 
As only "the pure in heart shall see God," he whose heart 
and body are both defiled must be debarred the heavenly 
vision. He hath "sowed to the flesh," he must, therefore, "of 
the flesh reap corruption," both here and hereafter. He hath 
"lived after the flesh," therefore, he must die. For God hath 
said — and he is not mocked — "Fornicators and adulterers he 
will judge," and "neither shall inherit his kingdom." 

Another class of sensualists, more numerous but less 
criminal than those I have described, is found in that great 
multitude, of all ages and descriptions, who, careless and 
thoughtless of hereafter, live only for present enjoyment — ■ 
chiefly the young and the gay, who are placed above the 
necessity of bodily labor, and are furnished, without their 
own care, for even the superfluities of worldly accommodation'. 

To such, then, I put the question, "What preparation are 
you making for eternity? What are you now sowing? 

Yours is the spring time of life, the propitious season to 
sow in hope; yours is the season of happy disengagement 
from the cares and troubles of the world; favorable, therefore, 
to improvement of every kind. What, then, are you doing 
for your souls under these advantages? Are you sowing to 
the flesh or to the Spirit? Are your time and thoughts ap- 
plied in a reasonable proportion to "acquaint yourselves with 
God" through his word? Does prayer form a part of your 
daily duty? Are your spare means employed in acts of 
charity and mercy? Are any self-denials encountered to 
enable yuu to do good? In short, are you "remembering your 
Creator in the days of your youth?" What can you answer? 
Are these things so in any such degree as to be relied upon 
before God? If so, then is your seed time for eternity hap- 
pily begun, and your harvest shall be abundant; if you con- 
tinue in the grace of God, "what you sow you shall reap." 

But I fear for the answer you can truly make! Early piety 
is not the fruit of these evil times — times in which parents 
think to go to heaven themselves, and let their children come 
if they can; or, what is more frequent, think it of no impor- 
tance either to themselves or their children how to get thither. 
Let me, then, put the question to you — from your real con- 



TFETJIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 3'9§> 

«dition. Is your time wasted in idle reading and frivolous 
work? Are your thoughts occupied with the vanities of the 
world, and your means applied to adorn you for its vicious 
dissipations? Is self-denial unthought of, and charity turned 
over to fathers and mothers? Is the Sabbath itself, and even 
the house of God, made a party to the indulgence and enjoy- 
ment of personal admiration, and God not in all your thoughts, 
as he ought to be in the thoughts of every accountable being 
'-under the gospel? Is this the seed you are sowing for eternity 
an this your spring time of life, in which you are so highly 
•favored? "Oh! if the root be thus rottenness, shall not the 
blossom go up as dust?" And if the blossom be thus withered, 
where shall the fruit be found? What crop can you expect 
to reap either for time or for eternity? Are balls, and theatres, 
and frolics, and parties, seed plants to bear heavenly glory? 
Do they savour of God, or of the world? Do such things 
promote his fear and love in your hearts, or shut him out al- 
together from your thoughts as God? And how shall those 
appear before him who, in this life of trial and preparation, 
have laid another foundation, have nothing but the fashion- 
able follies of a sin-struck world to recommend them to God? 
For, will God accept of them? This will determine their real 
worth. Ask, then, at his word, and receive the answer — "Be 
not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man 
soweth, that shall he also reap." 

To Christians, also, and to them above all others, is it neces- 
sary to put the question prompted by my text. Their pro- 
fession, the honor of God, and the success of the gospel, as 
well as their own salvation, all bind upon them to "walk 
worthy of their high calling and glorious hope." And, un- 
less these motives enter into the estimate they form of the 
gospel, they will in something come short of their duty. "No 
man liveth unto himself," especially no Christian. His life 
ought to be an active, persevering effort to promote the glory 
of God by promoting the welfare of all to whom he has ac- 
cess, particularly their spiritual welfare. This duty finds its 
first exercise in the family of the Christian. In addition to 
the ties of natural affection, he stands pledged for them in 
obtaining God's covenanted blessings. Under and subservient 
,to the claims of natural affection,, his duties branch out through 



400 FRUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 

kindred to kind. As a member of the great human family y 
and himself a child of the "God and Father of the spirits of 
all flesh," a feeling of brotherhood includes even the most 
distant and unknown. But it is to those immediately in his 
reach, particularly the "household of faith," that his most ac- 
tive exertions are applied. The poor and the needy, the suf- 
fering and afflicted, find the true Christian a friend and a 
comforter; even the vicious and the profligate are not out of 
the reach of his good wishes and good offices, so far as they 
will sutler them. His example gives no countenance to con- 
formity with the world in many of its vain and vicious pur- 
suits; nor is the name of Christ, in this respect, blasphemed 
through those over whom he has either control or influence. 
And, in his more private deportment, God sees the deep and 
earnest devotion with which he serves him, prays unto him,, 
and depends upon him: and he sees it to bless it — "For unto 
him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance." 

Now, then, my Christian brethren of this congregation, is 
it with seed of this kind that you are sowing the field from 
which your harvest is to be reaped? To the extent of your 
power, does the love of Christ constrain you to do good unto 
all? Particularly, does it draw you forth with diligence to 
implant the fear of God in your children, and to train them 
up to his service? Are you sowing this field of duty thick 
with prayer for the divine blessing and direction? Is the 
world overcome in the temptation of its unsanctified vanities, 
and all conformity with its vicious pursuits put away from 
you? Are you frequent in your closet, and your heart warmed 
and your spirit strengthened by your devotions? — These are 
seeds of grace which surely ripen for glory in eternity: and 
that glory shall be yours if ye are "found faithful unto death." 
But "be not deceived." If you are sowing this field with 
other or with mixed seed, you lose your labor. "Either make 
the tree good, and his fruit good, or the tree corrupt, and his 
fruit corrupt." "I would thou wert cold or hot," says our 
Lord; "because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee 
out of my mouth." "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: 
for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." 

What then remains, my hearers generally, but to exhort 
you to bring your worldly condition to the test of this equi- 



FRUIT ACCORDING TO SEED SOWN. 401 

table rule; and now, in this the seed time, every one of us 
for eternity, to seek the good seed of the kingdom to be sown 
in our hearts; and to cultivate it carefully in our lives, that 
"the fruit may be unto holiness, aud the end everlasting life." 
"JSTow unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly 
above all that we ask or think, unto him be glory in the 
Church, by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without 
end. Amen." 



SERMON XXXIV. 



THE UNFRUITFUL FIG THEE. 



Luke xiii. 7. 

Then said lie to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I 
•come seeking fruit on this fig tree M and find none: cut it down; why cum- 
bereth it the ground? 

The immediate connexion of the subjects in some of our 
Lord's discourses, as recorded by the Evangelists, is discern- 
ible only by careful and diligent consideration of the context. 
Of this the conversation, of which my text forms a part, may 
serve for an example. 

The lesson we should all learn from it is obvious enough; 
but the connexion it has with the fate of those Galileans whose 
blood Pilate mingled with that of their sacrifices, and of those 
on whom the tower of Siloam fell (respecting which events 
our Lord was discoursing with his disciples) is not so evident. 
The transition — from an exhortation to repentance grounded 
•on the sudden and unlooked for destruction which overtook 
them, to the patience of God with delaj'ing sinners — to be 
profitably applied by us, requires to be carefully considered 
and brought home to individual condition. But when thus 
considered, as it is more striking in its application, and cal- 
culated to make a more serious impression upon the con- 
science of the man; so is it nearer to that divine blessing, 
that supernatural energy of conviction, which makes the 
word of God life and power to our souls. 

The use I would make of this observation at the entrance 
of my discourse is two fold. 

First, to draw your attention in general to the very serious 
injury to your souls, which arises from mere cursory reading 
of the Scriptures; by which I mean such a reading of them 
as is unconnected with a deeply felt personal interest in what 
they contain. God's message to mankind is not only a reve- 
lation of his will to the world in general, but a special and 



404 THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 

personal communication to each particular individual who is 
called into being under the grace and truth which came by 
Jesus Christ. From this alone can any individual derive 
satisfactory information of his actual condition, of his obli- 
gations to God, of the duties required in return, and of the 
sanctions by which they are enforced. To read it, then, as 
a mere fund of general information, as something important 
perhaps, but not special and personal, not as a direct com- 
munication from heaven to h-im who peruses it, is at the very 
outset to make the word of God of none effect. And to this 
cause, I am verily persuaded, it is owing, that numbers who 
admit the divine authority of the Scriptures, and have read 
their Bibles, have yet derived no profit from the word of life. 
Yet in assigning this as the cause why so many rational be- 
ings, with his message in their hands, are yet at a distance 
from God, and as careless and negligent of the interests of 
eternity as if the present life were the boundary of their ex- 
istence, I would not be understood as meaning to exclude the 
many other causes which combine with superhuman power 
against the soul; but, according to my experience, to place 
the one I have mentioned in the front rank, as that by which 
all the others are increased in their power, and finally estab- 
lished in their dominion over us. Show me the man who 
has read his Bible only as a general communication to man- 
kind, and I will show you the man who has laid it aside, and 
has no concern with religion. He may, indeed, be externally 
respectful to its forms occasionally, and be one who is amiable 
and estimable for the life that now is; but for the great and 
ulterior purpose of our present being, he is the fig tree on 
which there is nothing but leaves. But show me the man 
who has received and read his Bible as a communication from 
heaven to himself, and I will show you the man who con- 
tinues in that word — who is a Christian by open profession and 
by practice, and is the fig tree which has fruit as well as leaves. 

The next use I would make of the introductory observa- 
tion on my text is, to warn you against a very common cause 
of disregard and inattention in reading the Scriptures, grow- 
ing out of the peculiar manner in which the instruction they 
contain is expressed. 

The moral of a parable, and the similitude and application 



THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 405 

of a figure, require attention and reflection on the part of the 
hearer, to render them profitable. If, therefore, either from 
some fancied obscurity in the allusion, or from some assumed 
difficulty in the application, we neglect altogether or misap- 
ply the instruction thus given, we stand justly chargeable 
with all the consequences which must follow. That enmity 
and opposition to religion which is the mark of the natural 
man; his inaptitude to discern the things of the Spirit of God, 
of which he is advertised; with the powerful influence of 
present and sensible things, against which he is most ear- 
nestly warned; all conspire to urge him to an escape from the 
just and direct application of what can colorably be evaded 
in the warning and instruction of the Scriptures. And though 
this ruinous disposition of mind is met at the moment by the 
verdict of conscience — by the inward misgivings of the heart, 
that it is a false and forced conclusion we have come to, yet 
by what thousands of accountable and immortal beings, who 
are to be judged too by this very word, is this ruinous delu- 
sion followed! It is indeed true, my hearers, that the Scrip- 
tures themselves form a part of our trial; they are so framed, 
that we may draw from them the wisdom of salvation, or 
pervert them to destruction; and in this respect they stand 
on the same ground with all the other provisions of God's 
mercy and goodness to moral beings. This circumstance, 
therefore, so far from lessening the obligation we are under 
to use all diligence to acquaint ourselves with the mind of 
the Spirit, increases it by the full amount of all those awful 
consequences which await our failure or success in this pri- 
mary duty. 

That it was designedly and of wise purpose, and not merely 
in compliance with the figurative style of language common 
to the Eastern nations, that our Lord delivered his instruc- 
tions to the people in parables and figures of known and vis- 
ible things, we have his own declaration in two instances, and 
both of them so expressed as to require careful consideration 
in order to their being rightly understood. 

The first is in these words: "Therefore speak I to them in 
parables, because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear 
not, neither do the} 7 understand." This reproach and reproof, 
so often objected by our Lord to the Scribes and Pharisees 



406 THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 

in particular, and to the whole Jewish people in general, was 
not occasioned by any want of natural parts or faculties, feuts 
because of their want of a disposition and readiness to receive 
instruction. The one would have been a pitiable detect for 
which they could not be held answerable; but the other evi- 
denced such a proud contempt of truth and right, such a 
perverse neglect of their highest interests, as rendered them 
and all others of a similar disposition worthy to be given 
over to their own ignorance and conceit. 

The next declaration of our Lord is expressed in language 
still more remarkable: "All these things are done in parables, 
that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they 
may hear and not understand, lest at any time they should 
be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." From 
which we are to understand — not that it was the design of 
Curist to impede the salvation of those who heard him by 
the manner in which he framed his instructions — No! God 
forbid! for that would be to contradict the express and de- 
clared purpose for which he came into the world; but the 
meaning is, that he chose to deliver his doctrine in such a 
manner that those only who were really desirous to know the 
will of God, and disposed to do it when known — who were 
anxious to be informed, and willing to search for instruction 
in righteousness as for hid treasure — might receive and pro- 
fit by his teaching, while the careless and negligent, the proud, 
conceited, and incorrigible, should reap the fruit of their wil- 
ful perverseness in remaining blind and deaf to all his instruc- 
tions and exhortations. And this explanation of our Saviour's 
declarations, as on the one hand it clears them from all con- 
tradiction in the terms, and relieves us from deriving any 
impious doctrine therefrom; so on the other hand I trust it 
will convince all who hear me, that something more than mere 
reading the Scriptures is necessary to derive from them the 
saving knowledge with which they are stored, and enforce 
that consideration and earnest inquiry into their true mean- 
ing and application which it is the object of these introduc- 
tory observations to excite. Their connexion with and bear- 
ing upon the subject will appear from the more particular 
consideration of the text, to which I now proceed. 

"Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold: these 



THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE.. 40T 

three years I come seeking fruit on this rig tree, and find 
none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" 

From the direct application of this parable to the Jewish 
Church and people, we learn, my brethren and hearers, its 
immediate and personal application to ourselves. God, in the 
inscrutable wisdom of his righteous government, and in the 
just exercise of his threatened wrath, having visited the sins 
of his ancient people, by casting them off from his particular 
favor and covenanted mercy, hath been graciously pleased 
to transfer these unspeakable benefits and high privileges to 
the Christian Church, and to call us r by the spread of the 
gospel in the world, to the knowledge of this grace and to the 
hope of eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 
This favored condition is largely set forth in the New Testa- 
ment under a similar figure with that in my text. Tie hath 
transplanted us into his own vineyard; therefore, St. Paul 
addresses the Corinthian Church as "God's husbandry" — as 
"God's building." He hath grafted us, wild olive trees by 
nature, into the true olive tree, making us partakers, accord- 
ing to the same apostle's argument to the Roman Christians,, 
of the root and fatness of a cultivated plant; having furnish- 
ed us in his word and ordinances, and in the gift of his Holy 
Spirit, with all that is needful for growth and fruitfulness.. 
Reasonably, therefore, does he expect the seasonable returns 
of his care and kindness, in those "fruits of righteousness 
which are by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God." 
This, my dear friends, is the true condition ot every soul 
under the light of the gospel. From this condition, and the 
obligations it involves, nothing in the reach of human power • 
and ingenuity — no subterfuge of unbelief — no sophistry of this 
world's wisdom, can possibly release you; and this is what 
the figure in my text is designed to press upon your attention. 
I. Hence it will follow, that the first head of doctrine fur- 
nished by my text, is, the absolute necessity of spiritual im- 
provement — of growth in grace. This is the fruit required 
by the owner of the vineyard, which is expected to be found 
on us as Christians, as plants of God's husbandry. From this 
nothing can excuse any of us, my hearers, as is most striking- 
ly exhibited in the parable of the talents, in which we are 
taught that the equity of the great Governor of the universe 
proportions his demands according to what he has bestowed, 



4£8 THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 

and in which the negligent, slothful, and unproductive ser- 
vant stands condemned,- not for the waste and abuse of his 
Lord's talent in actual sin and wickedness, but for failing to 
improve it. It needs not, then, my dear hearers, that we be 
actual sinners, outbreaking profligates, to incur the wrath of 
God in the miseries of outer darkness and rejection from his 
presence. ^Neglect of the gospel — indifference to the salva- 
tion it brings, will exclude from the reward it reveals. So 
that, however moral, however orderly, however upright, how- 
ever respectful to religion our outward deportment may be, 
vet if our hearts are unchanged, if heavenlv affections are 
not stirred up in our souls, if divine grace is not improved to 
holiness of life, we cannot see the Lord. Having no heavenly 
fruit of the Spirit of God to show, we are barren fig trees, fit 
for nothing but to be cut down and cast out of the vineyard. 

II. Another, and very important head of doctrine contain- 
ed in my text is this: That there is a limit to the patience and 
forbearance of God in his dealings with us as sinners. "These 
three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: 
cut it down." But though this is undeniably a clear inference 
from the text, and is confirmed by very many other passages 
of Scripture, and by the true nature of a probationary state, 
grounded on supernatural assistance; yet we are not to under- 
stand that the day of grace afforded under the gospel is limited 
to three years, according to our own or any other computation 
of time. It simply means a determinate space given to every 
man, wherein, by the use of the prescribed means, to make 
his calling and election sure. Within which space, repen- 
tance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, will 
avail for pardon and acceptance; but beyond which, neither 
repentance, nor faith, nor acceptance, are possible. 

To a doctrine thus awakening in itself, and calculated to 
startle the thoughtless and secure, there is inseparably an- 
nexed, the awful uncertainty of what the extent of each par- 
ticular person's limit may be. This, equally with the time of 
our death and the final judgment, God hath mercifully and 
wisely left among the secret things of his own counsel; while 
in making known the certainty of the event, he hath revealed 
all that can be useful to quicken our slothful spirits. O that 
poor delaying sinners, that the thoughtless votaries of plefti- 
eure, falsely so called, would but consider at what a dreadful 



THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 40$ 

risk they continue to slight the affectionate warnings and ad- 
monitions of God's holy word, and the secret voice of their 
own consciences! For the time may come (it is threatened 
by him who cannot lie) when "they shall call, but God will 
refuse to answer" — when "distress and anguish shall seize 
upon them," but God, even the most merciful God, shall 
"laugh at their calamity and mock when their fear cometh." 
It is threatened in the words of my text, my delaying, spirit- 
grieving hearers — "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the 
ground?" which leads me to the 

III. Third and last head of doctrine I shall notice from the 
text. 

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after that the 
judgment" Keligion without accountability is a baseless 
fabric; and accountability without corresponding sanctions, is 
.the prostration of God's moral government of the world. 
Hence, that he should assert the dignity of his supreme do- 
minion, and vindicate the insulted majesty and purity of his 
holy law upon those who rebel and transgress against him, is 
not only the clear and unecraivocal discovery of revelation, 
but the insuppressible sentiment of every human heart. With- 
out this universally felt and acknowledged truth, hope is a 
delusion, and fear a phantom of the imagination; right and 
wrong, virtue and vice, are mere arbitrary denominations, 
and the religion of Christ a deceitful fable. But, from natu- 
ral feeling, from inward consciousness, from the light of rea- 
son, from the testimony of superstition, from the whole 
analogy of nature, we are aware that we are accountable be- 
ings, and that on the account we shall be able to give in, will 
depend our future and eternal weal or woe. This deep and 
universal impression cannot be wholly obliterated, my breth- 
ren. We may, and too many of us, alas! do what we can to 
smother our consciences under the vanities of time, and say 
to the monitor within us, as Felix did to St. Paul, "Go thy 
way for this time." But its power is shown in the moment 
of surprise and danger, when death demands his victim; and 
the fearful anticipations and awful forebodings of the wicked, 
ecrually with the hope and composure of the righteous, unite 
in fastening upon the soul the faithful conviction, that what 

is revealed will surely be executed. 
[Vol. 2,— *27.] 



HO THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 

And jet, so deep is the depravity of our fallen nature,, so 
absolute the corruption of our faculties, and so powerful the- 
tendency to unbelief, that for the transient pleasures of sin — 
knowing it to be sin, for the poor perishing things of this- 
world — knowing how uncertain, empty, and unsatisfying they 
are — we can and we do,, thousands of us, dare the' sanctions 
of eternitv, and risk the wrath of God. Multitudes can and 
do make light of the improvement of their spiritual advan- 
tages, recpuired by the gospel on pain of everlasting misery,, 
and careless whether they are fruitful or barren in the things 
of God and religion, waste their day of grace — the unknown 
limit of heaven's mercy and forbearance — in "treasuring up 
wrath against the dav of wrath and revelation of the ria-hteous 
judgment of God." O that God would be pleased to touch 
the hearts of those who are thus running the round of folly 
and destruction, and enable me so to apply the subject as tQ 
convince both saint and sinner of the awful danger in which 
neglect of the advantages conferred by the gospel places 
them! For both saint and sinner are deeply interested in 
the warning of my text, according to their several conditions. 

To the sinner, (and by sinner I mean the person whose 
course of life is in opposition to the gospel, either by open 
wickedness or actual neglect of religion and its ordinances,) 
my text speaks of the love of God, of the mercies of redemp- 
tion, of the blood of Christ, of the means of grace, all scorn- 
ed, slighted, trodden under foot, and despised; and it calls 
upon him to consider, before it be too late, what answer he 
can make to God for thus setting at nought both his invita- 
tions and his commands. Let me ask you, then, and with all 
the affectionate earnestness of a friend who sees and feels for 
your danger — are the works of the flesh, in sensuality and 
uncleanness, in revellings and drunkenness, in Sabbath-break- 
ing and profaneness, the fruit which God expects from a peo- 
ple whom he hath favored with the gospel? Is love of the 
world, in its vain and sinful pursuits, that love of the Father 
which the author of all your mercies, the giver of every good 
and perfect gift to his creatures, deserves and requires at 
your hands? Is the idolatry of wealth- worship, the love of 
money, that "hungering and thirsting after righteousness," 
that "seeking first the kingdom of God," which is enjoined 



THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 411 

upon all who would secure a place at- Iris right hand? Is en- 
tire disconnexion with religion, under any of the multiplied 
forms in which it is accessible to every shade of caprice, that 
confession of the Lord Jesus Christ before men, which we 
are commanded to make,, on pain of being denied by him in 
the great clay of eternity? Alas! my dear hearers, such is 
not "the spot of God's children!" Such is not the "fruit" 
Avhich he requires and will accept as a return for the inesti- 
mable blessings of the gospel! No! the end of these things 
is death, even the death of the soul. For the time cometh 
— and God only knowetk how near it may be to any of you — 
when the Lord of the vineyard, wearied by continual disap- 
pointment, with coming year after year, seeking fruit and 
finding none, shall pronounce the irreversible sentence — "Let 
no fruit grow on thee for ever;" — when the Holy Spirit, 
quenched and extinguished by the love of sin, shall take Iris 
final flight, and leave the impenitent rejecter of Christ, like 
a blasted and sapless tree, a mere cumberer of the ground, 
fit for nothing but to be cut down and cast into the fire. 
"Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead," 
ere thy day of grace close upon hope and mercy, now held 
out to thee through the cross of Christ; awake to faith, to 
repentance, to calling upon God with strong crying and tears^ 
and "Christ shall give thee light." Let not to-morrow steal 
away the convictions of thy heart; for it may not come to 
thee, or it may come a blank in thy salvation. 

Thus does this awakening portion of God's most holy word 
apply itself to the consciences of those who withhold them- 
selves from the means of grace, and turn a deaf ear to the 
invitations of the gospel. But to professors of religion— to 
the household and family of Christ, who are, in the prober 
sense, the vineyard of the Lord — it applies in a differer.t re- 
spect. To such it speaks of improvement, of increase, of ad- 
vancement in the divine life, of fruitfulness in the knowledge 
of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of going on unto per- 
fection. As heirs of an incorruptible inheritance, it speaks 
to them of preparation for it in victory over sin, and the at- 
tainment of holiness. It, therefore, speaks to them of watch- 
fulness and prayer; of self-denial and non-conformity with the 
world; of diligence and faithfulness in all their duties, "look- 



412 THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 

ing rmto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith." Such 
was the fruit which he hore towards God in the days of his 
flesh; and such is the fruit which he requires of all his faith- 
ful members. To this o-racious end, he hath furnished them 
with the help and guidance of his Holt Spirit; the counsel 
of his true and faithful word; the means of grace in the ordi- 
nances of his house, and the bright example of his holy life. 
These he hath left for their attainment of eternal life in that 
everlasting kingdom, whither he is gone before to prepare a 
place for them. But he hath left them, my brethren, on 
conditions, which give no room for slothfulness, or negligence; 
which never permit the Christian to say, It is enough, I have 
attained — and the condition which includes all the rest, is 
growth in grace. "Unto him that hath shall be given, and 
he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not shall 
be taken awav even that which he hath." This is the con- 
dition set forth in the words of my text, and applied more 
especially to his Church. 

And is it so, then, my brethren, that the members of Christ 
may forfeit their privileges and the glorious hope under which 
they are enrolled in the Lamb's book of life? Yes; our Lord 
Jesus Christ himself beino; witness against all inventions of 
•men, who would be wise above what is written — "Behold 
these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and 
find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground." Let 
the unfruitful Christian then tremble at his danger, lest the 
command be already s;one forth. Let the diligent and faith- 
ful be stirred up to greater watchfulness against the encroach- 
ing spirit of the world; and let all who have ears to hear, 
aad souls to be saved, learn the unchangeable condition on 
wMch they stand for the mercy or the wrath of God in 
eternity — improvement of their day of gospel grace, to the 
attainment of that "holiness, without which no man shall see 
the Lord." 

Oh! it is a heart-sinking thought, to look round on the 
thousands of immortal beings for whom this grace is so richly 
provided, and to whom time and opportunity are given for 
the improvement of this talent, and then contemplate the 
apathy and indifference wherewith religion is regarded by 
nations and individuals, by high and low, by rich and poor, 



THE UNFRUITFUL* FIG TEEE. 413 

bv bond and free! It is alarming to mark the unconcern 
with which the flying years of an uncertain existence are 
permitted to pass away, one after another, without thought, 
without impression, without any serious calculation of .what 
has been done, of what is yet to do, for eternity. Yet by 
every vanishing year — and we know it well, my dear hearers 
— eternity, that eternity in which there are no successive years 
to count upon, in which there is no to-morrow for the thought- 
less to escape to, is by so much the nearer to us all. 

Let the closing year, then — and surely the exhortation is 
appropriate to my text — let the closing year make its appli- 
cation of these truths to your consciences, and form a point 
for all to pause upon, and count up how often in this way 
the lord of the vineyard hath come seeking fruit on this fig 
tree — to reflect what fruit our past lives have presented to 
God, and thence be made wiser for the years that are to 
come. Let the dark but wise uncertainty which is spread 
out over the duration of time and of grace to all, rebuke de- 
lay, and rouse to diligence; and let the past forbearance of 
God through the intercession of the merciful dresser of the 
vineyard, knock at the door of every heart, and obtain an en- 
trance for that truth which gives hope, for that repentance 
which leads to God, for that faith which unites to Christ, 
which overcomes the world, and lays hold on eternal life. 

Having thus appealed to you, my brethren and hearers,, 
from God, in behalf of your immortal souls, permit me for a. 
moment to descend to myself, and make my appeal to this 
congregation* as their pastor. "Behold these three years I 
come seeking fruit on this fig tree." True, my brethren, 
three years of my very imperfect, often interrupted, but, as 
I hope, not altogether unfaithful services, have come to a 
close. It is a period of sufficient extent to be marked with 
effect, and it is our joint duty to pass it under a strict review. 
As Christians, you must know whether upon the whole you 
have profited by my labors, whether you are increasing in 
knowledge, growing in grace, strengthened in faith, and more 
devoted to God. These are the fruits which he requires from 
his people, and which he commands them to manifest in the 

♦Preached at Raleigh, N. C, Dec. 31, 1826. 



414 THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE. 

daily practice of their lives. This has been my object in my 
public and private labors; but I fear, greatly fear, that they 
have not been rightly directed or properly received. For, 
undeniably, there is among the members of our communion, 
more conformity with the world in things not directly sinful, 
than is seemly or becoming in those who have renounced the 
world, and say that they look for a better country. Let this, 
then, my brethren, be taken into that retrospect which the 
time and the subject unite to press upon our hearts. 

The great security of the Christian is engagement — such a 
heartfelt sense of the importance of religion, and of the com- 
fort of Christian hope, as places it first in estimation and de- 
sire. From this, fruitfulness will spring as from its proper 
soil. But without this lively power, a dead though perhaps 
decent profession of religion is the most that can be looked 
for; equally unproductive towards God, unprofitable towards 
men, and uncomfortable to the poor barren fig tree which 
rests satisfied with leaves, and is careless of that "fruit unto 
holiness whose end is eternal life." 

Three years I have come, my brethren, seeking fruit for 
God, and I say not that I have found none. No! God forbid! 
But I would that it were in larger quantity, and more ripened. 
Yet when due allowances are made for the many interrup- 
tions you have to submit to from my frequent and necessary 
absences, I feel that there is great cause of thankfulness to 
God, and encouragement to persevere. Let past mercies, 
then, stir us all up to future exertion, to put forth the ability 
he givcth for the increase of his kingdom, and to "abound 
yet more and more in every good word and work;" for, 
"herein," says our blessed Lord, "is my Father glorified, that 
ye bear much fruit." Let us go forth, my brethren, to the 
duties and trials of another year, "strong in the Lord and 
the power of his might." And may that blessing "which 
turneth the wilderness into a fruitful field," and "maketh 
streams to break forth in the desert," go with you, and give 
you victory, and return seven fold into your bosom those 
fruits of affection, regard, and kindness, which your pastor 
has received from his flock. 



SEKMON XXXT. 



YBE CAUSE OF UNFEUITFULNESS IN RELIGION* 

■ 



Hebrews iv. 2. 

But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith ift. 
them that heard it. 

It Is very profitable, my brethren, and calculated to make 
a good impression upon the heart, to consider carefully what 
great pains Almighty God hath taken to make the fruits of 
his compassion for a race of sin-ruined creatures, effectual for 
their recovery and restoration to his favor. To this end, he 
has not only acquainted us with his will in his revealed word, 
and given us commandments for the regulation of our lives; 
but he has added thereto the most powerful motives which 
rational natures can contemplate, in the happiness or misery 
of eternity. These he hath set forth, as the unavoidable con- 
sequences of the part we shall perform in the present life, 
and urges us, in the most earnest and affectionate manner, to 
believe and obey, that we may obtain eternal life. 

He has not only given us a faithful delineation of our own 
dispositions and affections, as corrupted and perverted by 
sin, together with the wisest counsels and most effectual 
means to guard against and counteract their destructive in- 
fluence; but he has added example also, in the history of 
men of like passions with ourselves, in every variety of con- 
dition, and under the progressive displays of that grace which 
he has been pleased to manifest, at sundry times and in divers 
manners, for the salvation of sinners. In an especial manner, 
he hath set forth the history and example of his chosen peo- 
ple, the children of Israel, as the standing admonition to 
Christians, in the improvement of their most gracious dis- 
pensation; furnishing to every condition in life, and in every 
variety of trial, that lesson of wisdom which precept and ex- 
ample united, present to rational beings, under failure or 
success, favor or rejection, unalterably consequent on faith- 



416 THE CAUSE OF T7NFEUITFULNESS IN RELIGION". 

fulness or disobedience to the divine commands; and that 
this was the wise and gracious purpose of the recorded his- 
tory of the Jewish people, we have the authority of an in- 
spired apostle for believing. "All these things," says St. 
Paul, "happened unto them for ensamples, and they are 
written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world 
are come." 

Of this most profitable use of the Scriptures of our faith y 
in the Christian warfare, many most striking instances might 
be given; but none, perhaps, more in point or more applica- 
ble to the present times, than that which is referred to in the 
words of my text; which the same inspired apostle applies as 
a warning to the Hebrew Christians; and which we, my 
brethren and hearers, may, and, if we are wise, will, apply 
to correct that careless, unconcerned temper — that bold and 
increasing infidel spirit, under whose baleful operation the 
mercies of the gospel are all neutralized, and the power of 
religion is last fading away from the profession of Christianity- 

"But the word preached did not profit them, not being 
mixed with faith in them that heard it." 

In discoursing on these words, I will first notice the cir- 
cumstance to which the apostle alludes, and then apply them 
to general edification. 

The promise of God to Abraham was, that he would give 
to his descendants the country where he then sojourned, to 
the utmost extent of its boundary, as a rest and inheritance 
to them and to their children for ever. To this promise, how- 
ever, was annexed the condition of fidelity and obedience on 
their part. At the deliverance of the children of Israel from 
the bondage of Egypt, this promise was renewed, and formed 
the prominent object of their expectations. To prove their 
faithfulness, however, and at the same time to manifest him- 
self more fully, and to make his laws and his worship known 
to them, as his peculiar people, God led them by the hand 
of Moses through the Red Sea and the wilderness of Arabia, 
sustaining them miraculously with bread from heaven and 
with water from the rock, which followed them in all their 
wanderings through a barren and burning desert. 

With the immediate protection and providence of Al- 
mighty God thus certified to their senses, the heart of thig 



THE CAUSE OF UNFEUTTFULNESS IN RELIGION. 417 

people nevertheless failed them, when they understood, that 
many and powerful nations were in possession of the promised 
land, with whom they had to contend for this inheritance; 
they, therefore, refused to go up and possess the land; mur- 
muring against Moses, and in the face of all the wonders 
hitherto wrought for their deliverance and support, dishon- 
oring God by unbelief, in distrusting his power to subdue 
their enemies and make good his promises. Wherefore the 
Loed sware in his wrath, that none of that rebellious genera- 
tion, with the exception of two individuals, should enter into 
the promised rest, or even see the land; but that they should 
wander in the wilderness, until death had consumed the re- 
bels, in the usual manner in which human life passes on to 
its termination. 

This is the particular circumstance in the history of the 
Jewish people to which the apostle alludes, and on which he 
grounds his exhortation to Christians, to a hearty reception 
and steadfast belief of the promises of God in the gospel of 
our Loed Jesus Cheist; and by which he shows, beyond all 
reasonable objection, that those promises are not absolute 
and unconditional, but adapted to the condition of moral 
beings, who are to be judged, and rewarded or punished, ac- 
cording to their works in the present state of trial and pre- 
paration for eternity. "Let us therefore fear," says this apos- 
tle, writing to Christians— "Let us therefore fear, lest a pro- 
mise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should 
seem to come short of it; for unto us was the gospel preached, 
as well as unto them. But the word preached did not profit 
them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." 

A faithful application of this subject to ourselves, then, my 
brethren and hearers, will instruct us as to the cause, and 
warn us of the consequences, of permitting the mercies of 
our condition, and the counsel of God for our salvation, to 
remain unheeded and unimproved. Let us, therefore, con- 
sider with attention, the cause here assigned for the indiffer- 
ence, carelessness, and disregard of those unspeakable bene- 
fits, to the knowledge and attainment of which, God hath 
called us by the gospel. 

That the promises and threatenings of Almighty God should 
be disregarded by rational beings, on any other ground than 



418 



THE CAUSE OF UNFKTTITFTTLNESS IN EELIGION. 



that of unbelief, is next to impossible to imagine. "When, 
therefore, the Scriptures uniformly denounce this as the cause, 
•of all sin and wickedness among men, they appeal to a prin- 
ciple, the truth and correctness of which is confirmed by in- 
dividual experience; for who is influenced by information to 
which he gives no credit? or who is affected by either pro- 
mises or threatening;?, of which he doubts or disbelieves the 
performance? Now, while it is certain that there are thou- 
sands and tens of thousands, under the light of the gospel, 
and who are not ignorant of the facts and doctrines of reve- 
lation, who are yet wholly unaffected by any religious im- 
pression; it is equally certain that there are very few, per- 
haps not one, of such persons, who could honestly claim the 
benefit of entire unbelief, were any advantage possible from 
such an unhappy state of mind. And this is certified to us 
by the anxiety and alarm which such persons manifest at the 
approach, or under the serious apprehension of death. Not 
that such apprehensions then come upon them for the first 
time. — No! repeatedly, continually through life, have they 
knocked at the door of their hearts, and urged the reasona- 
bleness, the prudence, the safety, of listening to the still 
small voice of God, speaking through their consciences, but 
have been told to wait for a more convenient season. Hence 
it appears, that this master sin of accountable beings is not 
only a voluntary act, but, in a very high degree, a forcible 
rejection of such testimony as, in the agreement of the wit- 
nesses, makes truth itself more certain. When the voice of 
conscience is confirmed. by the revealed word of G-od— and 
it is immaterial which speaks first — there is no refuge for the 
neglecters of such irrefragable testimony, but wilful unbelief. 
Now I take upon me to say — and I appeal to your own 
hearts, my hearers, for its confirmation — that this is the 
actual condition of by far the greater number, who, here and 
elsewhere, give an occasional Sunday forenoon to "hearing 
preaching," as it is called. Kepeatedly has the truth preached 
received this double confirmation. Again and again, has the 
heart almost been persuaded to yield. Yea, in many instan- 
ces, conviction has stung the soul for a season with all its 
terrors. But unbelief, in some of its multiplied deceits of 
pride, procrastination, and worldly interest, has driven off 



THE CATJSE OF UNFRUITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 419 

the SrmiT of God, and shut the door against the Physician 
of souls. If this be not so, why are so many among us re- 
gardless of God and careless of eternity? Whence is it, that 
what their reason assents to, and their heart confirms by its 
involuntary testimony to the truth, shall, in one little hour, 
be put to flight, and exhibit the awful spectacle of redeemed 
sinners — unconverted to God, and knowing themselves to be 
such — yet putting away from them the means of grace, re- 
jecting the counsel of God against their own soul, and sport- 
ing in all the gaiety of unconcern, over that gulf of bottom- 
less perdition, from which they are separated only by the 
brittle, uncertain, and continually breaking shell of human 
life. The word preached does not profit them. Why? Be- 
cause of unbelief. Because it is not mixed or accompanied 
with faith in them that hear it. Full credit is not given to 
it, as the word and truth of God; nor is any other cause as- 
signed, by the wisdom of God, of the disregard of religion by 
men. The corruption of our nature, indeed, by the enter- 
tainment of sin, is the root. But this very corruption is the 
primary fact which revelation discovers to us — the foundation 
of all that follows; and is itself the hardest, perhaps the last 
of all, to be fully believed. Against this truth, this master- 
key to the grace of the gospel, unbelief musters all its forces. 
Whatever self-love or self-ria-hteousness can suggest, to edee 

O , DO " O 

in something of unbroken, unperverted good in our nature — 
something independent of divine grace, unpurchased by the 
blood- of a divine Saviour, and bestowed upon us for his sake 
only — is maintained with all the pertinacity which pride can 
impart, for the defence of this citadel of its power; and while 
this is maintained, Christ will profit us nothing. As. he is 
the only Saviour, so is he an entire Saviour. His priceless 
worth comes not into union with merit in man. u To you 
that believe, he is precious," says St. Peter; and Christ is 
precious to the believer, exactly in proportion as this foun- 
dation-fact of revealed truth is embraced, and realized, and 
acted upon. It is the total, not the partial destitution into 
which sin hath sunken our nature, which requires the might 
of Omnipotence to restore, through God the Son, bleeding 
upon the cross, and God the Holy Ghost, imparting spiritual 
life to the souL "By grace are ye saved, through faith." 



420 THE CAUSE OF UNFROTTFULNESS IN RELIGION. 

Therefore, the word preached cannot profit you, so long as 
unbelief maintains its power, and exalts itself against God 
and the word of his grace, either in whole or in part. While 
God's holy word preached to you is allowed to pass unheeded 
from your memories, unhonored by your practice of the du- 
ties it enjoins; while neither his promises nor his threaten- 
ings move you to seek the salvation lie offers through the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and through him alone; the hope and 
the comfort of the gospel is unattainable — the rest that re- 
maineth to the people of God cannot be found. As God 
svvare in his wrath, that the rebellious Israelites shall not 
enter into the typical rest of the promised land; so hath he 
also sworn, that the fearful and unbelieving, under the gos- 
pel, shall have their part, not in rest, but in the lake of fire. 
"We which have believed,'' says St. Paul, (continuing his 
argument from this example) — "we which have believed, do 
enter into rest." But to unbelief, there is no rest, no securi- 
ty, even no hope. Its brightest expectation is shrouded in 
darkness; its highest assurance, if we may use the word, rests 
upon conjecture; its most commanding motives are not drawn 
from the love of God in Christ Jesus — they are not derived 
from the life and immortality brought to light by the gospel. 
To the unbeliever, there is no "Saviour who is Christ the 
Lord;" no IIolt Ghost, "the Comforter," Enlightener, and 
Sanctifier; no sacraments, no means of grace in this life; no 
good hope after death; no reunion of soul and body, and of 
dear friends and brethren, in a blissful eternity. There may, 
indeed, be. a God; for unbelievers are not Atheists. But he 
is "a God afar off," he is "a God that hideth himself;" who 
speaketh not to his creatures; who furnishes no provision for 
the want and misery of a sinner, such as man. There is no 
hand to wipe the tear from the eye of the unbeliever — to 
present the cup of consolation to his wounded spirit; there is 
no word to speak of comfort, and say to the penitent, "Son, 
be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." Darkness and 
uncertainty are all that the unbeliever is possessed of, on the 
deeply interesting subjects of God and eternity; of their re- 
lation to the one, and of their condition in the other. O that 
3 7 ou may this day perceive, how cold and comfortless, how 
hopeless and dangerous it is, to continue careless and uncon- 



THE CAUSE OF UNFRUITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 421 

cerned, unmoved and unaffected, by the glorious display of 
divine love, wisdom, and power, manifested in the redemp- 
tion of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ! and, bursting 
the bonds of unbelief, struggle into the ''glorious liberty of 
the children of God!" Alas! how many gay, and thought- 
less, and apparently happy young creatures; how many intel- 
ligent, active, and industrious persons; how many gray and 
reverend heads, have yet to awake to their true condition, as 
unbelievers — living without God in the world, and to learn, 
that we are saved only by faith — that there is "none other 
name under heaven given amongst men, whereby we must 
be saved, only the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," open- 
ly confessed before men, and faithfully followed in the ex- 
ample of his life, and in the obedience of his holy command- 
ments. ".But the word preached doth not profit them, not 
being mixed with faith in them that hear it." 

If unbelief be thus voluntary and criminal, the inquiry 
naturally presents itself — Is faith equally voluntary, and 
within our own power? To answer this question aright, it 
will be necessary to settle, in the first place, what is to be 
understood by the word. 

Faith, in its full Scriptural meaning, is that assent to divine 
testimony which renews the heart to God, and rules the life 
to his service. And, in this sense, such is the condition of 
fallen creatures, "that they cannot turn and prepare them- 
selves, by their own natural strength and good works, to 
faith and calling upon God," as it is expressed in our tenth 
article. And in this sense, and this only, is it, that faith, as 
a fruit of the Spirit, is the gift of God. 

In another sense of the word, however, and that the one in 
which it is used in my text, faith is such an assent to divine 
testimony as convinces the understanding, though the affec- 
tions and the conduct may not be suitably influenced there- 
by; and, in this sense of the word, all rational beings, through 
the undertaking of Jesus Christ, are rendered capable of 
this duty; and so far faith is a voluntary act, and in our own 
power. Hence it is that the want of faith is never considered 
and spoken of in the word of God as a pitiable defect, which 
it must be were it involuntary; but as a criminal rejection of 
truth, confirmed by the highest evidence. Now, while it is 






422 THE CAUSE OF UNFEULTFULNESS IN RELIGION. 

very true that the strongest and most consistent testimony 
may be disbelieved, yet it is equally true tbat the person re- 
jecting sufficient evidence is not thereby excused, but, on the 
contrary, condemned as unreasonable, obstinate, or preju- 
diced. And as we act on this principle in the common af- 
fairs of life, we have but to transfer it to the divine testimo- 
ny in favor of revealed religion, in order to understand how r 
and to what extent, the duty required of us is in our own 
power, as I will endeavor to show you. 

As "faith is the evidence of things not seen," it must, ne- 
cessarily, depend upon testimony of some kind, whether its 
object be human or divine things. If the question, then, be — 
Hath Goo, indeed, revealed his will to mankind? it must be 
met as a question of fact, to be considered and determined 
by its proper evidence. Now, this evidence, we, as rational 
beings, are able to investigate; to try it by such rules as give 
sufficient certainty to other facts, of which w r e have no sensi- 
ble demonstration, and to determine accordingly: and, as 
moral beings, we are bound, both by duty and interest, to 
make this examination, with the simplicity and sincerity of 
mind which its supreme importance demands, and, if suffi- 
ciently attested, to receive and obey it without delay or re- 
serve. ISTo sane mind, I presume, will venture to deny the 
duty of submission and obedience, on the part of all his crea- 
tures, to the known and acknowledged will of God. But, if 
this is undeniably their duty, it must be in their power; for 
God cannot require impossibilities, or reveal contradictions. 

To the objection, then, which is sometimes resorted to — 
that, in the revelation given us of the will of God, we are 
commanded to do that, which at the same time we are told 
that we cannot do — we answer, that it is founded altogether 
on a superficial and erroneous view of the subject, on per- 
verted doctrine, or is resorted to as a quietus to wilful unbe- 
lief. It is true that the discoveries which revelation makes 
to us of our natural aversion to God and goodness, of our in- 
ability to do any thing in itself worthy of his acceptance, are 
clear and unequivocal. But it is equally true that those dis- 
coveries are made, not to repress our exertions, but to inform 
and set us right as to our true condition, and to rouse and 
stimulate us to apply and seek for that rich provision of 



THE CAUSE OF UNFRUITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 423' 

divine wisdom and grace which is therein also revealed and 
set forth as our portion in Christ Jesus, and as the means 
through which we can render acceptable service to the God 
of our salvation. The religion of fallen sinners, to be worthy 
of God, must be founded on grace, or assistance proceeding 
from him. The religion of moral beings, to be accepted of 
God, must proceed from the voluntary choice and improve- 
ment of the means given to that end. And in the union of 
these two principles consists the harmony of the Christian 
dispensation and the. accountability of man. 

This may, perhaps, be rendered plainer to yon by an ex- 
ample. Saving faith, being the gift of God, is beyond the 
natural ability of fallen creatures; yet it is required of them, 
in order to salvation. But the belief of God's revealed word 
sufficiently attested, and obedience to his commands, are 
within their natural ability; and, by the performance of what 
is confessedly within their power, that which is not, is at- 
tainable. In other words — God having been pleased to 
annex his grace, or the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to the 
use of means, it is thus to be sought by us, and in this way 
to be obtained. Nor can we adopt a different view of the- 
subject,, unless under the influence of enthusiasm, or of a 
fatalism destructive of religion. Besides, as all religious at- 
tainment is progressive, saving faith, sanctification, and all 
other the mature fruits of the Spirit of God, are to be looked 
for, not at the commencement, but during the progress and 
at the close of our Christian course. According to the words- 
of our Saviour — "He that hath, to him shall be given:" for 
"so is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into 
the ground; and the seed should spring and grow up, he 
knoweth not how. For the earth bringetli forth fruit of her- 
self; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in 
the ear." . 

If this view of the obligation to believe, and of our capacity 
for the attainment of faith, and of all other Christian graces 
dependent on it, is supported not only by the general tenor 
of Scripture, but by particular texts; and is, moreover, the 
only foundation of accountability in moral creatures; a fear- 
ful responsibility rests upon those who make no correspond- 
ing effort to consider and improve their advantages under the- 



42-i THE CAUSE OF UNERUITFtTLNESS IN RELIGION. 

light of the gospel. But the slightest acquaintance with reve- 
lation shows, that such is the case. God's message to man- 
kind is addressed to them as capable of understanding, 
believing, and obeying his word; and his promises are all 
suspended on the condition that they do this. If this be not 
so, what possible meaning can we attach to such texts as the 
following? "Repent and believe the gospel." "Repent and 
be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins, and 
ye shall receive the gift of the Holy G-host." "He that be- 
lieveth and is baptized shall be saved." "He that believeth 
not is condemned already." "Come unto me, all the ends of 
the earth, and be saved." Are these, and thousands like 
them, addressed to beings who cannot understand and apply 
them? who have no control over their own corrupt wills, no 
power to withstand the admitted and forewarned opposition 
of their fallen nature, no reason to consider and estimate the 
consequences? God forbid! Else whereto serveth the Bible? 
and why am I here to preach and you to hear? and where is 
the warning to Christians from the example referred to in 
my text? Was the promise of Almighty God, to give to that 
generation of the Jews the land of Canaan as an inheritance 
— confirmed as it was by the miracles in Egypt, by the pas- 
sage of the Red Sea, by the manna and the water of the wil- 
derness — sufficient for faith to rest upon for what was yet to 
fulfil in its completion? Our reason says, Yes, my hearers, 
and wonders at and condemns the hardness and stupidity of 
that people. And shall we escape a similar rejection from 
the heavenly rest, who, with clearer light, and more wonder- 
ful displays of the power and faithfulness of Almighty God, 
continue in unbelief, and, through carelessness and love of 
the world, neglect this great salvation? "Therefore, thou art 
inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for 
wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for 
thou that judgest doest the same things." 

But further yet: "Faith," says the apostle, "cometh by 
hearing, and hearing by the word of God." 

God having revealed his will, his ministers have where- 
withal to preach. But is mere hearing all that is required of 
the people? Is faith to come without an effort on the part of 
the hearer, to be assured that it is the word of God that is 



THE CAUSE (XF TJNFKUITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 425 

pleached, and to obey it wben heard? No! and no one but 
a fanatic ever thought so. For the gospel is commanded to 
be preached among all nations for the obedience of faith; and 
as reason is competent to estimate the proofs that the gospel 
is "the word which God, in these last days, hath spoken unto 
us by his Son," so is it equally competent to perceive the 
supreme obligation to receive and obey it as such — to put 
forth every power and faculty of a redeemed nature in this 
superlative duty; and, on the faith of God's command, to ex- 
pect, in the use of means, the fruit of God's promises. He 
calls us to his heavenly rest, and hath sent his only begotten 
Son to guide us to the promised land, as he called his ancient 
people from Egyptian bondage, and sent Moses to lead them 
to Canaan. He promises to be our support and defence du- 
ring our pilgrimage, and to make us victorious over all our 
enemies, in like manner as he promised to the children of 
Israel. But as they feared the Anakims who possessed the 
land, as they dreaded the toils of the war and the dangers of 
the battle, lusting after the flesh pots of Egypt, and dishon- 
ored God by their unbelief; so do we too, too many of us, 
fear the contest with our corruptions, and dread the priva- 
tions of self-denial, and, "loving the pleasures of sin for a 
season" more than the rewards of eternity, "fall after the 
same example of unbelief," and thereby forfeit that rest which 
Christ hath purchased — which God hath promised, and fur- 
nished us to attain. Light is, indeed, come into the world, 
even the light of life; but men love darkness rather than 
light. The glad tidings of a reconciled God, and an Almighty 
Saviour — of grace abounding even to the chief of sinners, and 
of eternal life assured to all who believe and obey the gospel 
— are preached continually, but they do not profit them that 
hear. The cause of this ruinous disregard of God's mercies to 
their souls is faithfully laid before them, both by precept and 
example, and they hear the words but they do them not. 

Need we, then, to be surprised, my brethren, at the small 
effect which is produced among us, by the preaching of the 
word? I think not. The cause is fully sufficient to account 
for the effect. Nor need we wonder at the disregard of reli- 
gion, and the consequent wickedness, which abounds; but we 
may well wonder, that where so much is known and felt to 
[Vol. 2,— *28.] 



42(3 THE CAUSE OF "EnSTFRTTITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 

be at stake, rational beings, on trial for eternity, should thus 
act — and, while we wonder, mourn also, and lament, that 
those for whom God hath done so much, should be so averse 
to do any thing for their own souls. 

Would you profit, then, my hearers, by the preaching of 
the word? Bear in mind, that you must be "doers of the 
word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own souls." The ' 
divine blessing is suspended on your own endeavors — "Unto 
him that hath, shall be given; but from him that hath not, 
shall be taken away even that which he hath." Remember 
that, "without faith, it is impossible to please God." All ex- 
pectations, therefore, built upon the morality of our lives; all 
sweeping conclusions, that God is other than he is revealed 
to us in Christ, and that he will save us apart from the con- 
ditions of the gospel, are among the deepest deceits of the 
devil, and the immediate fruit of unbelief. "Thou believest 
that there is one God, thou doest well; the devils, also, be- 
lieve and tremble." Where, then, is thy advantage, unbe- 
liever? What knowest thou of this awful and tremendous 
Being, abstracted from his own revelation of himself? What 
doth he require of thee? How will he deal with thee? What 
is provided for thee after death? — Unbeliever, canst thou tell?. 
No! neither canst thou hope. Hope — a good hope through 
grace — springs from the revealed word — from a God in, 
Christ, reconciling the world to himself, and pouring out his 
Holy SriRiT to recover it to holiness and eternal life. Hope 
springs from endeavor, from exertion to obtain what we hope 
for: and faith must go before as the first foundation of all. 
"To faith all things are possible;" but to unbelief there is no- 
thing possible, because there is no motive — nothing to excite 
the soul, either to hope or fear; neither is there any thing 
promised, but the blackness of darkness for ever. 

Have we, then, my brethren and hearers, ample founda- 
tion for faith to rest securely upon? sufficient motives for ex- 
ertion? efficient means for attainment? Whence, then, this 
indifference, this apathy, when eternity is at stake? Shall a 
preached gospel — the glad tidings of heaven's love and of 
man's redemption — become the savor of death to your souls, 
through your own neglect? Shall the sacrifice of the cross 
for your salvation prove the ground of a deeper condemna- 



THE CAUSE OF UNFRUITFULNESS IN RELIGION. 427 

tion, and identify you with those who crucified the Lord of 
glory? O, bethink you, while God is waiting to be gracious; 
while Christ continues to intercede for pinners; while the 
Holt Spirit is present to lead you into ail truth; and while 
a preached gospel offers its treasures of wisdom and know- 
ledge, of grace and truth, of comfort and encouragement, of 
pardon and peace, let faith seize upon the rich inheritance, 
that "the fruit may be unto holiness, and the end everlasting 
life." Be no longer ashamed of the gospel, but let your con- 
fession of Christ be openly made, and your acknowledgment 
of him, as your only hope of mercy and acceptance with God, 
be manifested by obeying his commands, and following the 
bright example he hath set you in his life. 

And you, my brethren, who have this day solemnly re- 
newed your baptismal engagements, take heed to yourselves, 
that what you profess to believe, be exhibited in its fruits; 
"that by so doing you may put to silence the ignorance of 
foolish men," and "your light so shine before" them, that 
they may be induced to choose that good part, which shall 
not be taken from them. Be not faithless, but, like the great 
father of the faithful, even against hope believing in hope, 
set to your seal that God is true. Let not a doubting mind 
weaken and defeat the effect of God's precious promises, and 
deaden your endeavors faithfully to fulfil the obligations this 
day undertaken. Bear in mind our blessed Lord's rebuke 
to doubting, sinking Peter — "0 thou of little faith, wherefore 
didst thou doubt?" Let "your profiting appear to all men," 
on the sure ground, that the help promised to enable you to 
work out your salvation, is and will be given you from above; 
and that as members of Christ, you shall receive of that 
"fulness of grace, which it hath pleased the Father should 
dwell in him," for his body the church. Only believe, for 
"all things are possible to him that believeth." "The promises 
of God being in Christ, yea, and in Christ, amen, to every 
one," who, with hearty repentance and true faith, embraces 
and obeys the gospel, 



SEEMON XXXYI. 



GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 



Ephesians iv. 30. 

And grieve not the Holt Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the 
day of redemption. 

A provision of divine grace, or spiritual assistance, freely 
bestowed by Almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
in order to enable fallen creatures to fulfil the conditions on 
which the rewards of eternity are suspended, is a leading and 
fundamental doctrine of the Christian revelation. And as 
this divine help, in its commencement and progress to holi- 
ness, is the special office of God the Holt Ghost; the regene- 
ration, conversion, sanctification, and resurrection of believers, 
are constantly referred in the Scriptures to his operations. 
Of these operations, the history of Christianity, as presented 
for our learning in the writings of the apostles, is the au- 
thentic record. From this, we must not only derive the 
belief of the doctrine, but learn, also, in what manner we 
must apply ourselves, to obtain this assistance, and how 
we are to ascertain its presence and effects. And for both 
these essential purposes, we are amply furnished, my breth- 
ren, in those Scriptures, "which are given by inspiration of 
God, and are able to make us wise unto salvation, through 
faith, which is in Christ Jesus;" for we there read, that God 
hath promised his Holy Spirit to all that ask it in fervent 
prayer, and that "the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, 
righteousness, and truth." 

On a subject, however, of such importance to our present 
comfort and eternal welfare, as that divine help, without 
which we can do nothing towards the improvement and per- 
fection of our moral nature, God hath been graciously pleased, 
not only to give us the most satisfactory information of the 
fact, but to add thereto, outward and sensible assurances to 
our faith in his promises, by the sacraments of the gospel. 



430 GRIEVING THE SPIEIT. 

In our original dedication to God, accordingly, in the 
sacrament of baptism, this indispensable, supernatural assis- 
tance is certified to our senses by "an outward and visible 
sign, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we 
receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof." Hence, 
the sacramental character of the ordinance, in representing 
to our senses the mystery of our ingrafting into Christ, and 
being made partakers of his Spirit; thus giving to faith that 
additional assurance which is furnished by the personal ap- 
plication of a general promise, and the personal undertaking 
of a common obligation. Much, my brethren, depends upon 
the view we take of the gospel, as a message from God to 
mankind in general; and of the ordinances of the gospel, as 
connected with the promises therein contained. For, how- 
ever true, however attractive in its promises, and full of com- 
fort and hope in its discoveries, it is but a speculation of the 
intellect, until personally appropriated, through its outward 
and visible ordinances. These are the title deeds, as it were, 
by which this rich provision of the love of God towards the 
world at large, is specially conveyed and made over to each 
individual who fs called to the knowledge of this grace, and 
accepts the invitation of the gospel. By the undertaking of 
the Son of God for this sin-ruined world, called in Scripture 
the "grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," 
God is enabled to offer terms of reconciliation and forgive- 
ness to sinners, promises of favor and reward to believers, 
and to supply the disabilities consequent on original sin with 
renewed powers of spiritual capacity; and as these are de- 
rived from the operations of the Holy Ghost, therefore it is, 
that the gift of the Spirit of God, as the root and spring of 
all spiritual attainment, is bestowed and certified in that or- 
dinance in which we solemnly undertake the obligations of 
the gospel. Thus is the religion we profess a reasonable ser- 
vice. Almighty God, of his mercy and goodness, supplies 
our lost ability by the renewal of spiritual strength, and, 
therefore, requires our duty; of his infinite wisdom he certi- 
fies his promise of this grace to our senses, by an outward 
and visible act of the most solemn and influential character, 
thereby rendering to faith, "as the evidence of things not 
seen," an assurance which it could not otherwise have, and 



GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 431 

to the exertions and obedience of redeemed sinners, a stimu- 
lus, a support, a confidence, which leads to victory over sin, 
to holiness of life, to eternal glory. 

But, my brethren, as men, though fallen, are yet moral 
beings, and not machines; as, in that capacity, they have to 
account to God, and, according to their improvement or 
abuse of his grace, to be rewarded or punished everlastingly; 
this fundamental doctrine of the gift of the Holt Spirit must 
be considered, and understood by us, in the nature of assis- 
tance and co-operation, and not otherwise. By the Holy 
Ghost, "God worketh in us to will and to do;" and therefore 
he requires us to "work out our own salvation." By the 
Holt Ghost, he illuminates our minds with the knowledge 
of divine truth, through the word spoken unto us by his Son; 
and therefore requires us to believe and obey the gospel — 
"to come to the light," and to "walk in the light, as children 
of the light." By the Holt Ghost, he convinces us of sin in 
our nature and in our actions; prompts and suggests in our 
hearts serious thoughts, holy desires, good counsels; strength- 
ens us to believe, inclines us to pray, inspires our petitions, 
and answers our prayers; and therefore requires us to follow 
the Spirit in his gracious leadings and teachings, as the way 
to life — the new and living way to the kingdom of Heaven, 
which our Saviour Jesus Christ has opened to all believers. 

Thus much seemed necessary to be premised, my brethren, 
on the doctrine of spiritual influence in general, and on its 
special connexion with the sacrament of baptism, in order to 
the clearer understanding and more profitable enforcement 
of the exhortation of my text, which. I shall now proceed to 
explain and apply. 

"And grieve not the Holt Spirit of God, whereby ye are 
sealed unto the day of redemption." 

From the context, it is evident, that this exhortation is ad- 
dressed by the apostle to baptized believers or professing 
Christians; and from the connexion with his previous admo- 
nitions in which it stands, it is equally evident, that it is an 
exhortation to a special duty, grounded on a particular cir- 
cumstance in their spiritual condition, common to them all 
as Christians. From the terms in which the exhortation is 
expressed, it is clear, that the particular circumstance in their 



432 GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 

spiritual condition, common to them all as Christians,, is the- 
gift of the Holt Spirit conferred at baptism, as the root from 
which present holiness, or participation of the divine nature,, 
and future glory or eternal life in the kingdom of God, must 
spring, be carried on, and completed. And from the whole, 
the conclusion is plain and undeniable, that though all rightly 
baptized persons do receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, they 
may, nevertheless, deprive themselves of the benefits thence, 
and thence only, to be derived; and, by neglect and oppo- 
sition, weary out the compassion of God, and provoke him to 
withdraw his help and succor. 

These inferences from the text are supported by the whole 
tenor of Scripture, and by the whole structure of Christianity, 
as the religion of fallen sinners restored to a state of trial, 
and to be dealt with hereafter according to their improve- 
ment or abuse of the things freely given them of God. As 
spiritually dead, they must be spiritually revived and quicken- 
ed, previously to any just demand from them of religious 
duty; nor is a state of trial even conceivable of such a crea- 
ture as man fallen, without this previous interposition of 
supernatural power. On the other hand, as a state of trial 
involves both failure and success, and accountable conduct 
involves freedom of action, the assistance given to mankind, 
in order, to the performance of r-ewardable duty, is precluded 
from whatever is necessitating and compulsory. An action 
being no otherwise moral than as it is free, the influence of 
the Spirit of God upon the hearts and lives of men cannot be 
divested of this character without cutting up all religion by 
the roots. 

Had this sin-ruined world been allowed to continue to this 
day without the provision made for its restoration by the 
undertaking of the Son of God, as revealed in the gospel,, a 
state of trial would have been impossible, because nothing 
but failure could have ensued. In like manner, were it the 
nature of that divine assistance, which God hath vouchsafed 
to fallen man in the gift of the Holy Ghost, that it could not 
be resisted and defeated, trial would be equally out of the 
question, and the retributions of justice and judgment, as 
applied to moral conduct, interdicted and precluded. 

That this view of the subject is the only Scriptural aud 



GKIEVING THE SPIEIT. 433 

practical one, is confirmed to us both by the letter of Scrip- 
tare and by the entire structure of the religion we profess, as 
will be evident from the following considerations: 

"With the predictions of the Messiah by the prophets, were 
connected the predictions of a larger as well as a more general 
outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The prophet Joel, in particu- 
lar, was inspired to describe that new dispensation of religion 
under which a full measure of divine assistance should be be- 
stowed upon men. "And it shall come to pass afterward," says 
the Almighty, "that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, 
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; and also upon 
the servants, and upon the handmaids, in those days will I 
pour out my Spirit." Of this prediction, the day of Pente- 
cost was the exact fulfilment; and the fact, as then witnessed 
to their senses, formed the argument with which St. Peter 
reached the hearts of three thousand of his hearers, and con- 
verted them to the faith. 

On this promise, thus fulfilled, Christianity is constructed. 
On additional power being conferred to understand and apply 
the spiritual doctrines of the gospel, men are called upon and 
exhorted to believe and obey its life-giving precepts. And 
on their restored competency to receive or reject it, are the 
awful sanctions of everlasting life or eternal death reserved, 
to be applied by the righteous judgment of God according to 
the choice they shall now make. 

We speak not to merely rational beings, when we warn 
them to repent and believe the gospel; but we address our- 
selves to rational beings, furnished by the goodness of God 
with a higher principle than reason, even with such a mea- 
sure of the Spirit of God as puts life or death, heaven or hell, 
on their own determination, according to the conditions of 
the gospel. Nor yet, when we warn sinners to flee from the 
wrath to come, do we speak to mere machines, upon whose 
natures an unchangeable necessity is impressed by their 
Maker; but to moral beings who are restored to freedom of 
choice, by the regenerating power of the Holt Ghost, and 
only as such capable of praise or blame, of reward or punish- 
ment. On this ground, our Lord addressed the Jews before, 
and his apostles the Gentiles after, the day of Pentecost. On 
this ground, the ministers of Christ address themselves to 



434 GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 

all descriptions of men. To the Heathen and the unbaptized, 
they propose the gospel and its fuller measure of spiritual 
succor in the words of St. Peter on the day of Pentecost — 
"Kepent and be baptized, every one of you, and ye shall re- 
ceive the gift of the Holt Ghost. He that believeth and is 
baptized shall be saved." To the baptized, who walk after 
the course of this world, they address the solemn warning, 
that they are "doing despite to the Spirit of grace" — that 
they are "accounting the blood of the covenant, wherewith 
they are sanctified, an unholy thing" — that they are "crucify- 
ing," to themselves, "afresh, the Son of God, and putting 
him to open shame." They caution them, that God hath 
threatened that his Spirit "shall not ahvaj-s strive with man" 
— that it would be "better for them, never to have known the 
way of righteousness, than to depart from the holy command- 
ment delivered to them" — that, if they "quench the Spirit," 
it will be "impossible to renew them again to repentance." 
And, by these commanding motives — by the long suffering of 
God, and the worth of eternity — they exhort all such per- 
sons to "repent and be converted;" to "turn from the error 
of their ways," and to "walk in newness of life;" to seek the 
Lord in his pardoning mercy, before their day of grace is 
expended, and the door barred against them forever. 

And to Christians — to baptized believers — the ministers of 
Christ address those encouraging exhortations, which are de- 
rived from so effectual a helper as the Holt Ghost. "God 
worketh in you to will and to do;" therefore, "work out your 
own salvation, with fear and trembling." "Ye have re- 
ceived, not the spirit which is of the world, but the Spirit 
which is of God;" therefore, "grow in grace and in the know- 
ledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." "Know ye " 
not that your body is the temple of the Holt Ghost, which 
is in you, which ye have of God?" therefore, "glorify God in 
jour body and in yourgpirit, which are God's." 

Thus do all the obligations of religious duty meet every 
class and condition of mankind, on the ground of renewed 
ability imparted by the Holt Ghost, sent down from heaven 
to abide with the Church for ever. And thus is it, indeed, 
that "reasonable service" which all are commanded to render 
unto their God and Saviour; and for the neglect of which, as 



GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 435 

there can be no reasonable excuse offered, so neither can there 
be any rational hope of escaping the vengeance threatened 
against all those who carelessly neglect to stir up the gift 
that is in them, and by continuing in sin, quench the Spirit, 
and drive him from them for ever. And very remarkable it 
is, my brethren, and well worthy your most serious conside- 
ration, that, as the renewal of the Holt Ghost in fallen men 
is the foundation of all religious requirement from them; so 
is the assurance that we possess this gift of grace, exclusively 
referred to our baptism. From the obligations entered into, 
and the promises made and sealed, in this sacrament, all 
Christian instruction, exhortation, and hope, takes its rise; 
and this so strictly, that there is not an example of Christian 
duty required, or of Christian hope given, except of and to 
baptized persons. The first word of this salvation addressed 
to mankind, is, "Repent, and believe the gospel," "for God 
hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world 
in righteousness." Now the gospel declares, that "except a 
man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the 
kingdom of God.' j The gospel, therefore, being set up in the 
world, and its administration commenced, the next command 
is, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name 
of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive 
the gift of the Holy Ghost." And this command being 
obeyed, a new state, a new relation to God, commences; to 
which are given exceeding great and precious promises, both 
for the life that now is, and for that which is to come; and in 
which, the Spirit of God is the root from which all holy de- 
sires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed. We 
are baptized in the name of the Father; for the adoption of 
eons and daughters of the most high God — "Because ye are 
sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your 
hearts, crying, Abba, Father; wherefore thou art no more a 
servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through 
Christ." "VVe are baptized in the name of the Son, for the 
atonement made for sin by his death upon the cross — "Know 
ye not, that so many of us, as were baptized into Jesus 
Christ were baptized into his death?" "In whom we have 
redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." 
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against 



436 



GKIEVING THE SPIRIT. 



us, which was contrary to us; and took it out of the way, 
nailing it to his cross." We are baptized in the name of the 
Holy Ghost; for the renewal of spiritual life in our souls, and 
for the resurrection of our mortal bodies from the dead. "Not 
by works of righteousness which we have done, but accord- 
ing to his mercy, he saved us; by the washing of regeneration, 
and renewing of the Holy Ghost." "Hereby know we that 
we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of 
his Spirit." "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus 
from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from 
the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit 
that dwelleth in you." 

And now, my brethren and hearers, we are prepared to 
understand and apply the exhortation of my text, and to 
perceive and feel the infinite, importance of the obligations 
we have come under in our baptismal dedication to God; and 
the unspeakable value of the heavenly privileges thereby 
conferred upon us. 

"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are 
sealed unto the day of redemption." 

And, first, to baptized persons, who yet proceed no farther 
in the Christian life. 

Of such it may with truth be affirmed, that their whole 
course betrays such a disregard for the salvation wrought out 
for them by the sufferings of Christ, such an indifference to 
the means of grace, and such a preference for the world, as 
amounts fully to the guilt included in the expression of 
grieving the Holy Spirit. For what can be more grievous 
and distressing to an affectionate and generous friend, than 
to find all his exertions for our welfare defeated by careless- 
ness, or contempt, or perverse opposition? What estimate 
should we form of the heir to a princely estate, who was 
amply furnished by the owner with every appointment suit- 
able to his condition and expectations, and yet estranged 
himself from his benefactor, despised his admonitions, and 
abused and prostituted his bounty? Would you hesitate to 
pronounce such an one ungrateful, unworthy, and justly 
liable to the forfeiture of present advantages, and of the 
future inheritance? Yet, just as surely as this judgment is 
the answer of every soul that now hears me, is it the con- 



GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 437 

demnation of every baptized person who neglects the obliga- 
tions and rejects the privileges of his covenanted relation to 
God; and by how much the longer time this disregard has been 
continued, by so much the greater is the offence and the 
danger attending it. 

But not only by general disregard of religion is the Holy 
Ghost grieved and despited. Every neglect of his good 
motions in our hearts — every conviction of reason and con- 
science on the subject of religion, either resisted or put off to 
a more convenient season — is in a more especial manner a 
grieving of the Holy Spirit of God. For, as every convic- 
tion of wrong, and every excitement to what is good, springs 
from his holy influences within us; if these are treated with 
contempt, or disregarded in operation, or opposed in conduct 
— as in an earthly friend and benefactor it would produce 
concern, regret, sorrow, and indignation, proportioned to the 
circumstances of the case — in like manner is our heavenly 
friend and benefactor grieved and distressed at the wilful and 
obstinate neglect of his help and counsel, by those who are 
committed to his sole guidance for the attainment of eternal 
life, through the strait and narrow way of holiness. 

To take for granted, as too many, alas! do, that only by 
out-breaking sin and profligate wickedness we grieve the 
Holy Spirit, is a most fatal mistake. Such a courge as this 
not only grieves, but, if persisted in, quenches and drives 
away the only help provided for our conversion and sanctifi- 
cation. But the same consequence is no less certain to the 
more orderly and moral, who advance no farther in the cul- 
tivation of religion than external respect for its forms. As 
the Holy Spirit will not dwell with the soul polluted with 
sin, so neither will he always continue to strive with those 
who neglect to stir up the gift that is in them. The out- 
breaking sinner may be abandoned earlier by the Spirit of 
God, but not more certainly than the careless neglecter of his 
gracious motions in the heart, whether these shall be produced 
by the secret suggestions of thought and meditation, or by 
the more direct convictions of the conscience from the word 
of God. To resist them — to put them off till to-morrow — to 
stifle and drown them in the cares and dissipations of the 
world — is just as effectual to drive the Holy Ghost from his 



57 



43 S GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 

temple, as a course of open and actual sin. For, "the mani- 
festation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal 
It is the rich talent of heaven's grace, which must be im- 
proved or forfeited; and when finally removed can never be 
restored. 

Secondly, to professing Christians. 

That by such the Holt Spirit of God may be grieved and 
offended, the text gives us sufficient warning, my brethren, 
for the exhortation is addressed exclusively to them. 

Greatly, therefore, are we concerned to watch against every 
approach to what may incur this guilt, for it is by small in- 
roads that the enemy of souls gains his advantage over the 
believer. "Whatever, then, has a tendency to impair the in- 
fluence of religion in our own hearts, is calculated to grieve 
the Holt Spirit. Of this description is all over-engagement 
with the business of the world, all unlawful conformity with 
its customs and waj r s. Whenever, therefore, these are allowed 
to interfere with our religious duties, whether public or pri- 
vate; when they occupy that portion of our thoughts which 
was once given freely to God; when they render seasons of 
devout retirement wearisome and dull; when these seasons 
are observed rather from duty than delight; when our spirit 
is more lively in the world than when retired with God; then 
may we well take the alarm that we have declined from our 
first love — that in something we have grieved the good Spir- 
it, and apply ourselves earnestly and faithfully to regain his 
blessed presence. And, as this presence is no otherwise to 
be known by us than by the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, 
fervency and frequency in prayer, diligence and engagement 
in all our duties, with increasing love to God, form the true 
standard by which to determine it; and as these are in us, 
and abound, may we rejoice in his holy comfort, or, with 
strong crying and tears, deplore the sin which hath driven 
him from us, and implore his return. As the condition on 
which we receive this gift of the Holt Spirit, and all the 
other mercies of God, is improvement — and the promise is 
sure, that "unto him" that hath, "shall be given" — growth in 
grace is not only a duty, but a test, to which to bring our 
spiritual condition; and, according as honest self-examination 
shall enable us to ascertain advancement or decline in the 



GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. 439 

divine life, may we conclude that we grieve or gratify the 
Holy Spirit. • 

That the exhortation" of my text, as applied to professing 
Christians, is to be referred rather to their private and per- 
sonal condition, than to their public and visible subjection 
to the gospel, must be evident from the consideration that it 
is not against open and palpable sin, as grieving the Holt 
Ghost, that they are exhorted. This would have vacated 
their claim altogether to be considered as Christians. It 
therefore refers to that more private, less discernible, but 
equally, if not rnorej efficacious determination of spiritual con- 
dition, which is evidenced by this the presiding principle of 
personal religion — by what is more particularly between God 
and our own souls, the hidden man of the heart. It will, in- 
deed, show itself outwardly in the observance of all the com- 
mandments and ordinances of the Lord; but it will not be 
satisfied with this: it will look, and it will strive for that con- 
solation and joy in the Holt Ghost, which is the sure fruit 
of sincere private devotion, and public profession of the faith 
of the gospel. 

Where these unite, Christians are "an epistle of Christ, to 
be read of all men." They "adorn the doctrine of God their 
Saviour," and promote the glory of God in the advancement 
of religion in the world. They fulfil their high calling. They 
"walk in the Spirit." "The Spirit of God witnesseth with 
their spirit, that they are the children of God." They grow 
in grace until ripe for glory. They pass to that immortality 
of blessedness of which the seal of the Spirit, impressed at 
baptism, is the earnest, and of which no power can divest 
them but their own personal guilt in grieving the Holy 
Spirit of God, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace. 

And may God grant that this feeble attempt to instruct 
and warn, be accompanied with that blessing which shall 
make it a word in season to those who are present; that his 
glorious name may be exalted, not only by our professed 
subjection to the gospel, but by those fruits of righteousness 
which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God. 



SERMON XXXVII, 



THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 



Job t. 6, 7. 
' • 

Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble 
■spring out of the ground; yet man is horn unto trouble, as the sparks fly 
upward. 

Common experience, my brethren, confirms the truth, of 
the latter clause of my text, and, by this proof of a common 
lot and condition in life, establishes the testimony of Reve- 
lation to our common origin and common guilt, as sinners 
both by nature and practice, and to the wise and gracious 
purpose of that state of probation which the love of God hath 
granted us, through the mediation of Jesus Christ our Re- 
deemer. And reason might instruct us, upon due reflection, 
that, as no effect .can possibly be without its cause, none of 
the afflictions which befal mankind in the present life are 
the effects of blind chance, or of a fatal necessity; but that 
they are all under the direction and control of that infinite 
wisdom, and all pervading goodness, which governs the uni- 
verse; and are intended, in the design of his Providence, for 
our good. 

A state of probation necessarily includes variety of condi- 
tion and qualifications in those who are subjected to it, as 
well as of failure and success in the best laid and most in- 
dustriously pursued schemes of worldly happiness and en- 
joyment. In these, "the race is not always to the swift, nor 
the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor 
yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men 
of skill;" but there is a controlling Providence, in whose 
hand second causes are often turned round from their usual 
direction, and overthrow the expectations built up, too ex- 
clusively, perhaps, upon their operation. In this, as in all 
the appointments of God concerning us, there is a lesson of 
wisdom and instruction, of comfort and consolation, which 
[Vol. 2,— *29.] 



|^g> THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 

we would do well to learn, my brethren and hearers. For 
surely I look upon none who are entitled to say, Affliction 
cannot reach me: I am fortified against trouble: disappoint- 
ment is shut out from my scheme of success and happiness 
in life! Alas! do I not rather look upon many who have 
drank, and are even now drinking, of that bitter, but whole- 
some cup, which, by calling us off from present delights, and 
turning memory back upon our sins, becomes an advocate' 
for God, and gives the soul an opening to retrace her way to 
him! 

That infinite wisdom doeth nothing in vain, and that infi- 
nite troodness intends the real benefit of his creatures in the 
administration of his fatherly Providence, is the sore ground 
on which it is our duty to submit with resignation to his- 
holy will, and to endeavor to improve the afflictions where- 
with he sees fit to try and chasten us, to the gracious purpose 
for which they are appointed: and as this may be comprised 
under the four following particulars, I shall endeavor thus to 
a}» ply them, 

Fikst, to teach humility, and inspire a just sense of our 
own nothingness. 

Secondly,, to lead us to repentance for our past sins.. 

Thirdly, to wean us from the love of this present evil 
world, and from dependence on its perishing delights.. 

Fourthly, to try our faith, to improve our Christian gra- 
ces, and perfect our souls for the presence of God. 

"Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither 
doth trouble spring out of the ground; yet man is born unto 
trouble, as the sparks fly upward." 

I. First, one end of God's sending afflictions upon men, is, 
to teach them humility, and inspire a just sense of their own 
nothingness. 

Every view we can take of the condition of man, demon- 
strates that there is no place for pride to be entertained. De- 
rived from the dust, and returned to it again; his life short 
at best, and uncertain in its whole continuance; his know- 
ledge limited; his power circumscribed; his faculties depraved, 
and his heart corrupted, what has he to be proud of? Yet 
what fruit of sin is more conspicuous in his fallen nature, 
than the workings of this corruption, in disregard of God, 



THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 44:3 

and insolent contempt of his fellow creatures; in the swelling 
self-importance of prosperity, and the indignant rejection of 
adversity? "The wicked, through the pride of his counte- 
nance, will not seek after God," says the Psalmist; and to 
this, as to its main cause, may be traced the ungodliness of 
the prosperous and those who nourish in the things of this 
world. To such, therefore, adversity is the only remedy — 
the only thing that can teach them the folly of their way, by 
striking away the prop on which they lean, and showing 
them practically how every way insufficient and insecure 
their dependence is: and thereby admonishing them to build 
on a better foundation. And not only to the profane and 
open despisers of religion, who set their hearts upon the 
world, are afflictions the only remedy that can reach their 
case with any reasonable hope of effect; but such is the de- 
ceitfulness of men's hearts, that even in those who are reli- 
giously disposed, and in those who make a profession of re- 
ligion, a continued course of uninterrupted prosperity is apt 
to foster the j)ride that is forgetful of God — that hardens the 
heart, and j)erverts the mind; against which evil God hath 
wisely appointed that mixture of blasted expectations and 
blighted prospects, which constitutes the afflictions of the 
present life, and is ordered and directed by his gracious Pro- 
vidence to bring men to a right sense of themselves, and of 
their dependence upon him; to humble their pride; to re- 
mind them of their own weakness and infirmity; and to put 
them upon a serious consideration of their true interests, as 
probationers for eternity. As it is the natural tendency of 
worldly success, and worldly delights, to blind the mind to 
spiritual things, and to increase the power of every corrupt 
propensity of our fallen nature; and as our gracious God is 
not willing that any should perish — affliction, in its various 
grades of disappointment, sorrow, suffering, pain, and sick- 
ness — is a necessary ingredient in the moral government of 
the world, and is, therefore, called in Scripture, the discipline 
and instruction of the Lord. But it is an instruction, which 
we must not only receive, but consider and apply, if we 
would profit by it; otherwise it serves only to stupify anci 
harden, and, not unfrequently, to drive the rebellious suf- 
ferer into the deep impiety of charging God with cruelty and 



4tt4 THE OEIGIN AND USE OF WOELDLY AFFLICTIONS. 

injustice. The pride that is not subdued by adversity — the 
spirit that is not broken by the rod of affliction — the heart 
that is not humbled under such admonition from the provi- 
dence of God — must be left to its own devices, and be forsa- 
ken, and given over to work out that overwhelming load of 
never ending misery and despair, from which it could neither 
be drawn by cords of love nor be deterred by the infliction 
of suffering. Yet how transient, generally speaking, is the 
effect of this great moral weapon, upon. the conduct of men! 
IIow like the early cloud and the morning dew are the hum- 
bling thoughts, and the good resolutions, and the thankful 
acknowledgments, which the anguish of a sore bereavement, 
or the distress of a severe worldly loss, have prompted and 
drawn forth in the hour of calamity! How quickly are the 
vows then made forgotten, and the respite then granted over- 
looked! "Who cannot call to mind the instance in which this 
is true of himself? And must not then the stroke be repeat- 
ed? If God hath not given us over to a reprobate mind, 
must not some severer blow from his hand be hanging over 
us? Yes, and there is but one way to avert it; and that is, 
to let past afflictions and present mercies now do their office, 
and humble us under the mighty hand which holds the issues 
of life and of death, and controls the changes and chances of 
this shifting world. Sure we may be, if we have faith only 
as a grain of mustard seed, that whatever our heavenly Fa- 
ther sends us must be good for us. Let us, then, search for 
the good that is hidden under his chastenings, and we shall 
find it in that humble and lowly heart in which God delights 
to dwell; that resigned spirit to which he grants the consola- 
tions of heavenly comfort, and that holy hope which waits 
with patience, and endures with constancy, those light afflic- 
tions, which are the bitter, but wholesome "admonition of 
the Lokd." 

II. Secondly, another end of God's sending afflictions upon 
men, is, to lead them to repentance for their jDast sins. 

Kepentance is that state of mind, which is truly alive to 
the heinous nature of sin as an offence against God, and sin- 
cerely engaged to avoid the commission of it, and subdue its 
power over the corrupt and perverted faculties of a fallen 
nature. As such, it is that state of mind, that disposition of 



THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 445 

the soul, to which every person capable of reflection and 
conscious of sin should strive to bring himself; because it is 
the indispensable condition of obtaining the favor of God 
and the promises of the gospel; for "except ye repent, ye 
shall all likewise perish." 

When, therefore, we reflect on the usual consequences of 
wordly prosperity, or of over-engagement in those pursuits 
which lead to it, we must see at once that no condition can 
be more adverse to the entertainment of religious truth. 
When a wicked, that is, an irreligious man, prospers in all 
his worldly aifairs, and his designs are followed with con- 
stant success; when he is able to gratify all his appetites, and 
to indulge himself in the enjoyment of ease and pleasure, or 
even to anticipate in his thoughts the time when this shall 
be in his power; it is no wonder he should forget God, and 
lean more and more upon himself. "Is not this great Baby- 
lon that I have builded?" said Nebuchadnezzar in the pride 
of his heart; and is not this the secret thought of many be- 
sides the Heathen king? In the intoxication of success, con- 
science is perverted or silenced in the worldly minded man; 
the serious exhortations of religion, if he venture at all to 
hear them, are unheeded, while he says to his soul, "thou 
hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, 
drink, and be merry." Now in this condition — and it is that 
of many, of many too, who are neither great nor increased 
in goods, but whose hearts are glued down to the world — in 
this condition, what remedy can be. applied but the rod only? 
The greatest blessing — the strongest proof of the mercy of 
God towards such persons is, the sending upon them some 
great affliction, some arresting and awakening judgment, 
which, like a severe medicine in a very dangerous distemper, 
may rouse them from their lethargy, may oblige them to 
consider, and thus lay the foundation for repentance, and en- 
gage them in the care of their souls. This is the true pur- 
pose of every dealing of God with his creatures. His goodness 
as well as his severity is intended to lead men to repentance; 
nor is the latter ever resorted to until the former is disre- 
garded. "God doth not willingly afflict the children of men;" 
but, like a tender father, reserves the rod as his strange work, 
as his wise and salutary appointment for their good. 



4A6 THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WOELDLT AFFLICTIONS. 

If afflictions be thus fitted, when duly applied, to reclaim 
the sinner from the folly of his way, much more are they 
suited to convince good men of their failings, to make them 
more sensible of their errors, to bring them to a closer self 
examination, and to a more perfect repentance and amend- 
ment. The very best of us, my brethren, are far, very far, 
from being what we should be, what we profess to be. Nay, 
we know not thoroughly what manner of spirit we are of, or 
what great imperfections lie hid in the mazes of our corrupt 
hearts; and it is by afflictions wisely ordered, that these are 
discovered, that they may be amended. Every serious 
Christian can say with David, "It is good for me that I have 
been afflicted;" and it is only when thus applied that afflic- 
tions are sanctified to us, and strength given from the Holy 
Spirit to bear up under them, and to derive comfort from 
them. A rebellious spirit under the chastening of affliction 
is like a wild beast caught in a net; he struggles and rages 
against the enclosure, but the affliction holds him fast, and 
becomes stronger; he bites the cords, but he sees not the 
mighty, though invisible hand, which spread the net, nor yet 
the gracious purpose wherefore he is thus visited. Not so 
the Christian. He knows it is the Lord, and he bends low 
before his Father's displeasure. He feels the stroke but he 
kisses the rod. He looks carefully for his offence; he amends 
it, and treasures up the correction against its repetition. 
Thus he can say with David, "Before I was afflicted I went 
astray; but now have I kept thy word." 

For this reason it is, that the afflictions and other suffer- 
ings God sends upon his people and servants, are declared in 
Scripture to be marks of his love and care towards them. 
"We are chastened of the Lord," says St. Paul, "that we 
should not be condemned with the world;" and our Lord 
himself declares, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; 
be zealous, therefore, and repent." In the very nature of 
things, afflictions cannot but be grievous and paiuful, when 
they are actually upon us; but the end they are intended to 
answer — the great advantage to be derived from them, by 
religious improvement — though it cannot, perhaps, bring us 
to desire them; yet is it amply sufficient to produce submis- 
sion under them, thankfulness for them, and a diligent ap- 



THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 44T 

plication of them to God's gracious purpose in sending them-. 
And, as this is to be gathered from the particular circum- 
stances of the case, we see in this the wisdom of the appoint- 
ment. Affliction makes even the most thoughtless, serious; 
and it is in seasons of adversity that the voice of conscience, 
unheeded in the hurry of business and in the whirl of plea- 
sure, is most likely to be listened to — to point to the very 
cause and occasion of the chastening, and to prompt to re- 
pentance, and amended life. 

III. Thirdly, another end of God's afflicting men, is, to 
wean them from the love of this present world, and from 
dependence on its perishing delights. 

The Scriptures are in nothing more earnest, than in warn- 
ing Christians against the dangerous influence which present 
and sensible things exert against the spirit and the power of 
religion. Being "contrary the one to the other," the conflict 
is perpetual, nor can it be ended but by the victory of one. 
To reconcile them, and give to each what it claims, is impos- 
sible; and, in the attempt, millions have lost themselves for 
ever, and millions are yet willing to make the perilous ad- 
venture. "No man can serve two masters;" where one is 
present and visible, and the other, though not absent, is in- 
visible; where one holds out his rewards to the senses and to 
present enjoyment, and the other offers chiefly what is future 
i — far distant — unknown to sense, and discernible only by 
faith; the very attempt to serve both, is proof that the world 
is already preferred. Were there nothing, then, equally 
present and sensible with the enjoyments of the world — no- 
thing to come practically in aid of faith, and remind us of 
our true, though invisible master — -nothing to prove the 
promises of the one we have preferred false and deceitful — 
the corruption of nature would yet further prevail against 
the influence of religion, and the god of this world triumph, 
in the mastery of his temptations. But afflictions — thanks 
be to God — 'afflictions in all their varied shapes, disappoint- 
ments, losses, sufferings, sorrows from many sources — all 
come in aid of the truth of God, and of our immortal souls; 
and by stripping the mask from the promises of the world, 
by proving their inability either to arrest or repair the sor- 
row of the heart, bring deliverance from the snare of their 
enchantment, 



44S THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 

"We know, indeed, and we profess to believe, that the pro- 
raises of the world cannot be permanent. "We have seen: 
them fail others, at their utmost need, and death will finally 
break the most sure possession of them. Yet all this is in- 
sufficient to overcome the delusion — experience, only, can 
prove their emptiness; and suffering must teach the obstinate 
to build upon a surer foundation. How many have cause to 
thank God that he hath thus dealt with them, and, by do- 
mestic affliction or worldly loss, opened their eyes to see, 
and their hearts to feel, that they; were building on the sand 
and leaning on a broken reed? To how many has the hour 
of worldly calamity proved the season of reflection and re- 
turning to God? And to how many has continued adversity 
been the wholesome medicine that resisted the influence of 
the world, and proved the health of the soul? "Well do we 
know, my brethren, that there is nothing more hurtful to the 
progress of religion than much engagement, even with the 
lawful business of life; insensibly almost, but too surely, it 
usurps the place of better things, and damps the ardor of the 
soul in its aspirations after God. It intrudes upon the time 
devoted to meditation and prayer, and distracts the thoughts- 
in the exercise of devotion. The thorns and briers choke the 
seed; but God, in his mercy, sends some affliction, some loss, 
some startling providence, and the spell is broken — reflec- 
tion succeeds — repentance brings forth its fruits, and greater 
watchfulness teaches "so to use this world as not abusing 
it." Thus do we perceive how the various disappointments, 
losses, and sufferings of the present life, work together in 
weaning us from the world, by proving its utter inability to 
secure to us its own promises, to comfort us under their pri- 
vation, or to restore the breach which God hath made in 
their possession. But it is a work to which we must be par- 
ties, my brethren, by serious consideration; by watchfulness 
and care, in following their wise direction; and by thankful 
submission to their salutary correction. 

IV. Fourthly, another end of God's afflicting men, is, to 
try their faith — to improve their Christian graces, and per- 
fect their souls for the presence of God. 

As the improvement or abuse of the present life will form 
the basis of our future existence, it is only by trials suited to 



THE OEIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 449 

the various conditions of our being, that any discrimination 
of moral character can be made: and as the foundation of all 
religious reliance, and of all religious exertion, is faith, or 
unqualified dependence on the divine veracity; it is there- 
. fore consistent with, if, indeed, it is not inseparable from, a 
state of retribution, that this foundation should be exhibited 
by its proper superstructure of obedience and submission. 
To this' the whole Christian system is adapted, and, as its 
sanctions are all invisible and future, Christians are said to 
"walk by faith and not by sight." Now, whether they do 
thus walk, there are but two tests: one is, obedience to the 
divine command; the other is, submission to the divine will; 
and in the union of both consists the perfection of our moral 
nature. But submission to the divine will can only be man- 
ifested in things contrary to our own will. Afflictions and 
privations, therefore, are just as necessary to manifest our 
faith and reliance upon Cod, in submission to his holy will, 
as active obedience is, to manifest our actual subjection to 
his righteous government as Sovereign of the universe. 

Hence we learn, my brethren, to estimate the mixed con- 
dition of the present life aright, to discern the gracious pur- 
pose of those things which are grievous to flesh and blood, 
and to apply them to the increase and establishment of that 
faith for the trial of which they are appointed, and by the 
power of which only they can be supported. The Christian 
who has met the disappointment of his fondest earthly hope 
without repining — who has been smitten in the affection of 
his heart without murmuring — who has endured unjust re- 
proach with patience,. and pain and suffering with resigna- 
tion, "looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith," 
presents a spectacle, upon which heaven looks with appro- 
bation. His faith has overcome the world; and his "light 
afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for him a far 
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 

As faith is the support of all Christian graces, the trials to 
which it is subjected, by the afflictions and sufferings of the 
present life, have a direct tendency to strengthen and im- 
prove all those virtues which form the beauty of the Chris- 
tian. As "the trial of our faith worketh patience," so doth 
an acquaintance with suffering open the heart to compassion, 



450 THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 

and the hand for relief. A disposition naturally tender will 
feel for distress; and a bountiful hand will administer to the 
necessities of others. But it is a fellow feeling with the oc- 
casion — the having drank of the same cup — that draws from 
the heart its holiest sympathies, its most fervent prayer, 
and from the hand its most active and untiring beneficence. 
He who "went about doing good," with a compassion un- 
bounded, and a liberality unecpialled — was "a man of sor- 
rows and acquainted with grief/' He "who knew no sin," 
who had no infirmity to be purged away, who needed the 
improvement of no virtue, was yet "made perfect through 
sufferings;" and through the same purification of the dross 
and corruption of our fallen nature, must we pass, if we 
would "be like him, and see him as he is." 

Sinners must suffer, my brethren, necessarily, unavoida- 
bly; yet — "Oh! the deptli of the riches, both of the wisdom 
and knowledge of God" — yet, in appointing suffering for 
sinners in the present life, God, even the most merciful God, 
hath so ordered it, that afflictions may be made a means of 
grace, and suffering the road to glory. "Man is," indeed, 
"born to trouble, even as the sparks fly upward;" but through 
afflictions duly improved, and trouble patiently borne, after 
the example and through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
his soul, that ethereal spark from him who alone hath im- 
mortality, may also mount upwards to its bright and glori- 
ous original, where "tears shall be wiped from its eyes, and 
sorrow and sighing shall flee away for ever." 

To conclude: Did "our afflictions come forth of the dust, 
and our troubles spring out of the ground;" were there no 
other cause to produce them, no other hand to direct them, 
no other counsel to design them, no other power to over-rule 
and remove them, than the fortuitous results of unintelligible 
chance, or the blind effects of inevitable fate, there could be 
no rational comfort or support to a considerate mind, under 
the various misfortunes and calamities of life. For what is 
the support of the unbeliever in the day of adversity, or what 
is his hope when death demands his soul? His expectations, 
at the best, are slight as the spider's web, and his hope like 
the chaff which the wind scattereth away from the face of 
the earth. His prosperity and mirth can be but for a mo- 



THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 451 

ment, and bis adversity must terminate in despair. For 
what support in the day of adversity, or what hope in the hour 
of death, can be derived from fate or chance, things which 
have no being? Where is the consolation in being told that 
our miseries arise from the necessity of fate, and, therefore, 
we must submit to them? Where is the comfort in consider- 
ing that others perhaps are as miserable as ourselves; and 
that it cannot be long before all the calamities of life will be 
closed by death? Alas! for that misery that sees no relief but 
death, and death unattended by hope beyond the grave! 
And yet this is all the comfort that infidelity can afford, and 
all the hope of him that is "without God in the world." 
Were there no other argument, then, for religion, my breth- 
ren and hearers, we might find one in the afflictions and suf- 
ferings which abound in the present life, and in the death 
which shrouds the brightest of its prospects and the largest 
of its promises, in the daily deepening gloom of its sure but 
uncertain approaches. Severe as these afflictions are in them- 
selves, without God they must be intolerable. Painful as is 
the divorce between soul and body by the stroke of death, 
without God it must be the horrible despair of interminable 
suffering and extinguished hope. The pretences of philoso- 
phy, of fortitude of spirit, of despising pain, and looking 
upon death as merely putting an end to our being, will then 
be found a vain and empty delusion. And the proof, (though 
it will be too late,) the proof will then be found that he only 
is capable of any true comfort and support under the miseries 
of life and in the hour of death, who is convinced that all 
things are directed well and to good ends, by the wise pro- 
vidence of Almighty God; and who, by a life of obedience to 
his commands and cheerful submission to his will, has se- 
cured the favor of the supreme Disposer of all things. 

Learn, then, your privilege, my dear hearers; and, as you 
can neither escape the calamities of life nor the penalty of 
death, employ your best diligence to provide against both, 
by acquainting yourselves with God. He spreads before you 
the counsel of his wisdom, the rich provision of his grace, 
and the promise of his mercy. He warns you of the bitter 
ingredients that are mixed up in the cup of human life. Of 
this cup all must drink, and some drain it even to the dregs. 



452 THE ORIGIN AND USE OF WORLDLY AFFLICTIONS. 

But the same God unveils eternity with all its glories as the 
prize of jour high calling; and wisely and wondrously hath 
he wrought, that "all things," even afflictions themselves, 
shall "work together for good to them that love God." "Be 
ye, then, workers together with him," that all things maybe 
yours; that shielded by his power and protected by his favor, 
neither "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or 
nakedness, or peril, or sword, may be able to separate you 
from the love of CnKisT." 



SERMON XXXVIII. 



THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 



1 John Hi. 1*. 

Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that 
We should be called the sons of God! 

The frequent and serious consideration of the privileges 
bestowed upon the Christian by the condescending goodness 
of God, is calculated, beyond any other train of thought, to 
engage the heart, and fill it with those sentiments of love and 
veneration which form the noblest attainment, and produce 
the highest gratification, the human soul is capable of, while 
encumbered with its tenement of flesh and blood. 

In like manner, to meditate on the awful gulf of ruin and 
despair into which sin hath sunk the human race, and to 
contrast it with the gracious and merciful provision against 
its destructive power revealed in the gospel, is efficacious, 
beyond any other known means, to awaken the sinner to the 
enormity of his guilt and the danger of his condition, to win 
him back to his duty, and to work that, change in the feelings 
and affections of his soul, which, by divine grace, is made 
effectual to the sanctification of his nature. 

That "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto him- 
self;" that "he- hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to ob- 
tain, salvation through our Loed Jesus -Christ;" that "Jesus 
Christ came into the world to save sinners;" and that even 
the chief of sinners, not excluding his very murderers, are 
encouraged to come to him, and warranted to hope for for- 
giveness on their sincere repentance, — these, my brethren 
and hearers, are surely "glad tidings of great joy," calculated 
to draw forth Christian thankfulness and praise, to awaken 
in the hardest heart some sense of the divine love thus mani- 
fested, and to draw to the Lord Jesus Christ for life and 
salvation those who, without him, must perish for ever. 






454 THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 

"Behold," then, "what manner of love the Father hath be- 
stowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" 

There can be no question, I think, that the apostle here 
addresses himself to those who had embraced the gospel, and 
adorned their Christian profession by a walk and conversa- 
tion in life conformed to the rules of our holy religion; of 
course, it is to the faithful Christian only, that the character 
of a son or daughter of Almighty God fully applies. And it 
is only by the Christian, by the true believer, that the charac- 
ter can be felt and valued as the most ennobling privilege 
his nature can be raised to. Even St. John himself seems to 
admire at so exalted a station being assigned to fallen mor- 
tals. "Behold," says he, as if lost in admiration — "behold, 
how condescendingly gracious the Father of mercies is in 
permitting so endearing a relation to be claimed and enjoy- 
ed by creatures such as we are!" And as he used it to en- 
force upon his hearers a corresponding diligence and faith- 
fulness in all the duties of their holy profession, I trust it 
may be made profitable to us also in the consideration of 
those particulars which must combine in us in order to attain 
the high distinction of sons and daughters of the living God. 

To this end I shall endeavor to show, 

First, that the great and leading purpose of the gospel of 
Christ is, to restore and renew in fallen creatures the moral 
image and likeness of God, lost by original transgression. 

Secondly, I shall lay before you the proof from Scripture, 
that only to those in whom this change is effected can the 
title of son or daughter of God be rightly applied. 

Thirdly, I shall take notice of the privileges conferred on 
those who are thus denominated. 

Lastly, I shall point out by what means so great salvation 
hath been wrought out and procured for us; and close, with 
a suitable application. 

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed 
upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" 

I. First, I am to show, that the great and leading purpose 
of the gospel of Christ is, to restore and renew in fallen 
creatures the moral image and likeness of God, lost by ori- 
ginal transgression. 

Just conceptions of the nature and properties of the Su- 






THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 455 

preme Being lead us assuredly to this, as the gracious pur- 
pose of the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. "God is light, 
and in him is no darkness at all," as the apostle expresses it. 
"He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," and can have 
no fellowship with unrighteousness. 

Just views of the condition and qualities of'human nature, 
show that it is the reverse of the divine nature; and in this, 
experience, both of ourselves and others, confirms the truth 
of revelation — "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a 
child. They go astray as soon as they be born." All com- 
munion, therefore, with God, is impossible, without a change 
of nature in him or in us; but God is by nature unchangeable. It 
is on the part of the creature, then, that the change is need- 
ed, and must take place, in order to regain his favor and be 
fitted for his presence. This is the basis of all just reasoning 
on this vital subject, my friends; and, however humiliating,, 
cannot be gainsayed with any show of faith, or overlooked 
with any hope of spiritual attainment. As the sick only need 
the physician, so, likewise, none but the lost and undone look 
for the Saviour. Christ has no form or comeliness till the 
extremity of this truth is brought home to the heart, in the 
full extent of its helpless misery by nature. 

Of what character the change must be, belongs to God 
only to declare. He is the being offended by sin, and alone 
entitled to make known the conditions of pardon and recon- 
ciliation to sinners. To expect his favor, then, or even his 
mercy, upon conditions of our own devising, is not only folly,. 
but the most presumptuous sin which mortals, furnished with 
revelation, can be guilty of. 

By what means this change is to be wrought in our hearts,, 
it is equally the prerogative of Almighty God to determine. 
Sin is not only a spiritual offence, manifested by an outward 
action, but it is a spiritual death; the destruction of the divine- 
image, or moral likeness to God in man; from which we have 
naturally no more ability to recover ourselves, than we have 
to recover the body from natural death. 

And it is not only his prerogative, but it is of his infinite 
mercy and compassion, that the means are afforded us. Our 
salvation,, in all its provisions, is wholly of grace, my breth- 
ren and hearers — of the free and unmerited love of God for 



■4-56 THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 

our souls, betrayed into siu and ruin by the art and subtlety 
of the great enemy of God and man. And as we fell through 
weakness, and not of malice against God, as did our adver- 
sary; therefore, God was pleased to provide recovery for us. 
But if the means of recovery are refused or neglected, now 
that they are offered, it will stamp our conduct with the same 
malicious character, and consign us to the same interminable 
torment to which our enemy is reserved. 

Hence it is plain, God being our teacher by his word, that 
as the entertainment of sin vitiated and corrupted our origi- 
nal nature, rendered us unfit for the presence and enjoyment 
of God, and expelled us from paradise; return to his favor, 
and recovery of the happiness we have lost, can no otherwise 
be accomplished than by the destruction of sin, both in its 
love and in its practice, and by regaining those pure desires 
and holy affections — improved and confirmed by the duties 
and the trials of the present life — which alone can fit us for the 
presence of God and the blessed society of heaven. The gos- 
pel accordingly keeps in view this great purpose throughout; 
and by every motive, and argument, and figure, which can 
be applied to rational beings who have to account to God, 
urges, and exhorts, and warns, and entreats them to believe 
and obev what God hath revealed, as the fixed and unchange- 
able condition on which eternal life is to be obtained. 

Hence also, the necessity of that indispensable change of 
the heart as well as of the life, which is expressed in the 
Scriptures by being born again. As spiritually dead — by 
nature averse to and incapable of divine and heavenly things 
— fallen creatures must be "renewed in the spirit of their 
minds," by the enlightening, quickening, and convincing 
power of the Holy Ghost. "That which is born of the flesh, 
is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit," says the 
highest authority to which man can bring his inquiries. By 
this new and spiritual birth then, only, is it that our denom- 
ination is changed from that of "earthly, sensual, devilish," 
to that of spiritual, heavenly minded, and holy; and, as thereby 
become "partakers of the divine nature," dignified with the 
appellation of sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty. 
"To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to 
become the sons, of God; even to them that believe on his 



THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 457 

trame; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the 
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." 

Thus clear, express, connected, and confirmed by experi- 
ence, is the account which God has vouchsafed to give to his 
creatures, in the Scriptures of truth, of his purpose and grace 
in Christ Jesus. And as he hath also appointed the means 
and directed the manner in which they are to be sought for 
and applied, by them, for the attainment of this change; and. 
as all, without exception, are not only invited, but command- 
ed to believe the gospel, and to come to Christ for the re- 
newal of the divine image; whosoever shall fail herein, must 
therefore fail because darkness is preferred to light, this per- 
ishing world to a heavenly inheritance, and the "bondage of 
corruption, to the glorious liberty of the children of God." 

Neglect of the gospel, therefore, is the broad and beaten 
road to destruction, in which so many are travelling rapidly 
to their graves. And neglect of the means of grace is the 
refusal of relationship to God, not only as involving contempt 
of his command, but as precluding the possibility of that in- 
dispensable change of heart, that birth from above, without 
which, obtained in the present life and retained by personal 
holiness, we are warned that "a man cannot see the kingdom 
of God." And it ought to be a subject of the deepest alarm 
to every soul who is placed within the reach of this mighty 
blessing by the providence of God, who is yet a stranger to 
its operation and effects. For, "except ye repent, ye shall 
all likewise perish." 

II. Secondly, I am to lay before you the proof from Scrip- 
ture, that only to those in whom this change is effected, can 
the title of son or daughter of God be rightly applied. 

In one sense, my brethren, as the creatures of God, the 
work of his hands, all mankind are the children of God; and 
had nothing interposed to divide and separate the Father 
from his children, this title would have been good and suffi- 
cient for all the blessings the nature given them was capable 
of. But sin caused the division and separation of this rela- 
tion as absolutely as extinction of being could have done. 
For, had the law not been found in the hand of a mediator, 
the continuance of the human race would have been defeated 
by the infliction of the penalty on the original transgressors. 

[Vol. L>,-*30 ] 



45 S THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNEKS. 

God is, indeed, the "Father of the spirits of all flesh." But 
it is solely through the undertaking of his only begotten Son 
that he is so. Abstract the world of mankind from this con- 
necting link between God and man, deprive it of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and the relation of Creator and creature is at. 
once divested of all paternal and filial connexion, and a race- 
of sinners are left under a hopeless blank of short and uncer- 
tain existence, terminating in death and despair. 

Through sin, men are spiritually dead to God; and, as a 
dead child cannot inherit, there is no inheritance in the 
kingdom of Christ and of God for the sinner. This the 
Scriptures set forth to us in every variety of expression and 
figure which can impress this truth upon the understanding 
and upon the consciences of men. Thus St. Paul, writing to> 
the Ephesians, who were a Christian Church gathered from 
among the Gentiles, reminds them, that before their conver- 
sion "thev were without Christ, being aliens from the com- 
monwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of 
promise, having no hope, and without God in the world;" 
that they were under a state of condemnation and death; 
"you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and 
sins." "Even when we were dead in sins," says the apos- 
tle, changing the person to denote the universality of the 
condition — "Even when we were dead in sins, God hath 
quickened us together with Christ." To the Colossians, also, 
"And you, being dead in your sins and in the uncircumci- 
sion of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, hav- 
ing forgiven you all trespasses." And to the Corinthians, 
likewise, he asserts the same truth argumentatively, from the 
death of Christ, "Because we thus judge," says this apostle, 
"that if one died for all, then were all dead." 

In confirmation of this point, the covenant relation of be- 
lievers to God as his children, according to the Scriptures, is 
derived exclusively from their new birth or spiritual regene- 
ration. By truly embracing the gospel, men are translated 
from this state of death, called "the power of darkness," into' 
"the kingdom of God's dear Son;" and the sacrament or mys- 
tery by which this is certified outwardly, is represented as 
the burial of the old man or dead sinner, and the resurrec- 
tion of the new man or renewed believer and child of God. 
Hence St. Paul, writing to the Komans, thus expresses it, 



THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 459 

"Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death; 
that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory 
of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of 
life." And to the Colossians in nearly the same words, "Bu- 
ried with him in baptism, wherein ye are also risen with 
liim, through the faith of the operation of Goo." And to the 
Ephesians still more expressly, "Ye are no more strangers 
and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the 
household of God;" and "are builded together in Christ for 
an habitation of God through the Spirit." 

In like manner our Christian duties are all exhorted to 
and enforced from the true intent of this sacrament, from the 
obligations then entered into, and from the spiritual ability 
therein conferred upon all rightly baptized persons. For 
thus St. Paul argues with the Roman Christians, "He that 
is dead is freed from sin. Let not sin, therefore, reign in 
your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof, 
but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from 
the dead; for sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye 
are not under the law but under grace." So also, writing to 
the Ephesian Christians, "This I say, therefore, and testify 
in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles 
walk, in the vanity of their mind — that ye put off, concern- 
ing the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt 
according to the deceitful lusts — and that ye put on the new 
man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true 
holiness. Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear chil- 
dren." To the Colossians, likewise, "If ye, then, be risen 
with Christ, seek those things which are above, where 
Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections 
on things above, not on things on the earth; for ye are dead, 
and your life is hid with Christ in God." 

Equally clear and conclusive is the testimony of Scripture, 
that only as our baptismal engagements are fulfilled unto ho- 
liness of life, are we truly the sons and daughters of God. 

Our Saviour Christ "gave himself for us, that he might 
redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a pecu- 
liar people, zealous of good works." Where this purpose, 
then, is answered, and not otherwise, our relation to Christ 
by baptism becomes effectual for all the blessings of the holy 



460 THE LOYE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 

covenant ratified in Lis blood. "Ye are all the children of 
God by faith in Christ Jesus," says St. Paul, "and if chil- 
dren, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." 
But though it is thus expressed in Scripture of all rightly 
baptized persons, yet must it ever be taken with the warning 
which our Lord himself has given; for, while it is certain, 
that "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," it is 
equally certain, that "he that believeth not," notwithstand- 
ing he may be baptized, "shall be damned." We read also 
of tares and wheat growing together in the field of Christ; 
of children of the kingdom, and children of the wicked one, 
within the pale of Curist's visible Church; and our own ex- 
perience certifies to the melancholy truth, that there are 
thousands of baptized persons who yet walk according to the 
course of this world, in all manner of sinful compliance with 
its wickedness. But such is not the spot or mark of God's 
children; for "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh 
with the affections and lusts;" and, therefore, if such persons 
continue thus regardless of their Christian calling and elec- 
tion, our Lord threatens to blot their names out of his book: 
and if they shall not be found written therein, in the great 
day of eternity, there will no inheritance be found for them 
in his eternal and glorious kingdom. For, "without holi- 
ness" — without a moral likeness to God, "no man shall see 
the Lord." 

III. Thirdly, I am to notice the privileges conferred on 
those who are thus denominated the sons of God. 

The first is justification. This is a compound term, my 
brethren, in its signification; and is used in Scripture to ex- 
press the state or condition of a truly penitent sinner, believ- 
ing in the Lord Jesus Christ, as offered in the gospel. To 
such an one, the atonement made for sin by the death of 
Christ, the cleansing virtue of his blood shed upon the 
cross, and the infinite merit of his. spotless righteousness, is 
his shield and defence against the just demands of the holy 
law which he hath broken. These he offers to God by faith, 
as his only plea for mercy and forgiveness. These, his Great 
High Priest presents before the presence of God in his be- 
half; and he is, therefore, and by virtue of their value in the 
sight of God, absolved from the guilt of his sin, released from 



THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 461 

the claims of the law upon his blood, accounted a righteous 
person, and, as such, accepted of God. "Therefore, being 
justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord 
Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into 
this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory 
of God." "Being justified freely by his grace, through the 
redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in whom we have re- 
demption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." 

The next privilege of the true believer is, adoption into 
the family of God; whereby, whatever is provided for the 
comfort and welfare of the household of faith is also dispensed 
to him. 

In the Church militant, this consists in the succor and 
help of the Holy Spirit; the nourishment of the word and 
sacraments; the enjoyment of God's promises; and the com- 
fort of Christian fellowship, with growth in grace, and in- 
creasing desire for more of God. In the Church triumphant, 
it will consist in the vision of God in glory; in the constant 
presence of the Lord Jesus Christ; in the society of angels, 
and of the spirits of just men made perfect; in the unlimited 
fulness of all holy affections and happy tempers, enjoyed in 
mansions of love, and joy, and peace, and blessedness, for 
ever. "According as He hath chosen us in Him, before the 
foundation of the world, having predestinated us unto the 
adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself." "Because 
ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into 
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." 

Another privilege of the sons of God is, sanctification; 
which is to be understood of a state or condition in life, and 
of the means of maintaining; it. 

The state or condition is, separation from the world and 
dedication to God; in which sense all Christians, by virtue of 
their baptism, are a holy people unto the Lord. "Ye are a 
chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a pecu- 
liar people," says St. Peter: and, generally, in the Acts of 
the Apostles, and in the epistles, Christians are addressed 
and spoken of, collectively, as saints. This state or condi- 
tion comprises, also, power over temptation to sin; and on 
this are grounded all the exhortations to Christians to cease 
from sin — "Sin shall not have dominion over you," says St. 



462 THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNERS. 

Paul; "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted 
above what ye are able." And St. John tells us, that "who- 
soever is born of God doth not commit sin;" which is not to 
be understood of sinless perfection in any fallen creature, 
but of the wilful commission aud allowance of any known 
act of sin and disobedience to the law of God. 

The means of maintaining this condition are, the clear 
discoveries of the will of God, which every Christian is fur- 
nished with in the Scriptures, and which every Christian 
should constantly study and apply — "For the grace of God 
which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching 
us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should 
live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." 
And with this, the presence and help of the Holy Spikit; 
the promise and participation of which, all Christians receive 
at their baptism — "Repent, and be baptized, every one of 
you, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." "Not 
by works of righteousness which we have done, but accord- 
ing to His mercy, He saved us, by the washing of regenera- 
tion and renewing of the Holy Ghost." "In whom also, 
after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit 
of promise." "Now we have received, not the spirit of the 
world, but the Spirit which is of God." "Likewise the 
Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we 
should pray for as we ought." "But the Spirit itself maketh 
intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered." 

The word sanctification being connected in our minds with 
the idea of perfect holiness or sinless perfection — and the 
heart witnessing, at the same time, how far short the best of 
us come of reaching this point — has operated against the 
true and scriptural meaning of the doctrine, and, at the same 
time, against the necessary duty of understanding and prac- 
tising what it requires. God hath indeed called us to holi- 
ness; but he doth not confer sanctification, as a particular 
gift or special endowment, upon any one, in the ordinary 
administration of his grace. He has graciously instituted 
the state of salvation into which we are called, and provided 
the sure means of our becoming sanctified or holy persons, 
in the fullest sense of the word. And it is our part, my 
brethren, to rejoice and be thankful for this distinguishing 



THE IX)VE OF GOD TO SINKERS. 46S 

privilege; to use diligently and faithfully the appointed 
means, in the full confidence that his promised blessing will 
snake them effectual, "to present us holy, and unblameable, 
and unreprovable in his sight," through the merits and death 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

• A fourth privilege of the believer or child of God is, as- 
surance, or the "abiding'witness of the Spirit," as it is ex- 
pressed in the Scriptures. As it is from the Holt Ghost 
that all spiritual attainment in man is derived; so it is by him, 
that all trust and confidence in the promises of God is sus- 
tained and upheld. But this witness is not a direct, super- 
natural communication to the believer by the Spirit of God; 
but the concurring testimony of that Spirit with his spirit; 
and is consequently the result of examination and compari- 
son, not only of the feelings, but of the fruits of religion — of 
the life and conversation of the man— with the standard, as 
contained in the precepts and examples set forth in the Scrip- 
tures for this great and necessary purpose — "For if our heart 
■condemn us," says the apostle, "God is greater than our 
heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart con- 
demn us not, then have we confidence toward God." He who 
sincerely endeavors and strives to»come up to this standard 
— whose meat and drink it is, to know and to do the will of 
his heavenly Father, though with much of felt, acknowledged, 
and bewailed deficiency and imperfection— may safely take 
the comfort of Christian assurance, "being confident that He 
who hath begun a good work in him, will perform it until the 
day of Jesus Christ;" that, as his adopted. child, "God will 
never leave him or forsake him; ; ' that, as one of Christ's 
sheep, who "hear his voice and follow him," he will give 
unto him the blessing of eternal life — will "raise him up at 
the last day," and own and "confess him before his Father 
and the holy angels." "My sheep shall' never perish," says 
Christ, "neither is any able to pluck them out of my hand." 
And, by the appointment of Almighty God, whoruleth over 
all, "the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect 
of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." 

IV. I come now, in the last place, to point out by what 
means so great salvation hath been wrought out and procured 
for us; and then conclude. 



4:64: THE LOVE OF GOD TO SINNEKSv 

On this head, I thank God, my hearers, that we are all in- 
formed. It needs not that I should tell you, as of something 
new, that all blessings, both temporal and spiritual — all favors 
and privileges here — all hopes and expectations for hereafter, 
are the purchase of the cross of Christ; that as undone sin- 
ners, we have nothing wherewith to avert the wrath and pro- 
pitiate the favor of a pure and holy God; and that "there is 
none other name under heaven given among men, whereby